Cleft palates and cleft lips are birth defects that are typically operated on when a child is very young. Cleft surgery improves a child's ability to eat, swallow, and speak normally. Patients often need multiple surgeries as they get older to perfect the appearance of a cleft lip. Read on to learn more about when and how updated cleft surgeries are performed.
What Are Cleft Palates and Cleft Lips?
A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth, and a cleft lip is an opening in the upper lip. Both are relatively common birth defects, and they occur when the tissues that make up either the palate or the lip do not completely fuse together during fetal development. Some children have both a cleft palate and a cleft lip, whereas others just have one or the other. For a child with both conditions, surgery to repair the cleft lip is usually performed before the cleft palate repair.
Surgery to repair a cleft lip involves suturing together the lip on either side of the slit-like opening. This procedure is generally performed on very young infants within the first six months of life. Surgery to repair a cleft palate is a bit more complex, and usually occurs when children are between nine to eighteen months old. This procedure involves closing the hole in the roof of the mouth, often using a Z-shaped suture. We also need to realign the muscles in the palate to ensure proper swallowing and speech ability.
When is an Updated Cleft Surgery Necessary?
After a cleft lip and palate repair, we usually do not perform additional surgery for several years as the child's mouth and jaw grow. After five to seven years, some children require palatial expansion and bone grafting. These procedures allow more room for permanent teeth to grow in, as children born with clefts often have narrow palates. Additional surgeries may be necessary to repair openings called fistulas between the nose and gum, improve the appearance of the nose and lip as the child gets older, and correctly align the teeth and jaw. To inquire about updated cleft surgery, call our office today.
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Dental Blog | Prosthodontist Houston, TX | Alexandra Garcia, DDS, MS Dr. Alexandra Garcia is offering this blog as a resource to the community. Click here to learn more about procedures, home care, and a variety of other dental topics! Alexandra Garcia, DDS, MS, 777 Post Oak Blvd, Suite 625, Houston, TX 77056 \ (346) 250-2930 \ dralexandragarcia.com \ 3/26/2023 \ Page Keywords: dental implants Houston TX \