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Cleft Lip & Palate Repair

Cleft lip and palate are birth defects that occur when a baby’s lip or mouth do not form properly. This can result in an opening or separation in the upper lip, roof of the mouth (palate), or both.

The exact cause of cleft lip and palate is often unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

While most cases are not caused by anything the mother did or did not do during pregnancy, certain factors increase the risk, such as:

  • Family history of cleft lip or palate
  • Smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy
  • Certain medications taken during pregnancy
  • Lack of folic acid intake during pregnancy

At Southwest Oral Surgery, we offer treatments to address congenital oral and facial disorders, including cleft lip and palate. If your child suffers from a cleft lip or cleft palate or both, do not hesitate to schedule your consultation in our Glendale office.

When To Schedule Surgery

Timing for a cleft lip or cleft palate depends on your child’s specific situation. For exact dates, it’s best to discuss the best options with your child’s pediatrician.

While individual situations are different, there are some general guidelines for these surgeries. Cleft palate repair is typically performed within the first few months, ideally between 3-6 months old. This is done while the baby is still young and the facial features are still developing, allowing for better outcomes.

Cleft palate repair is usually recommended within the first 18 months of life, and ideally before 12 months if possible. Early repair is crucial for speech and language development.

It’s important to remember these are general timelines, and the exact timing for your child might differ. The decision will be made by a team of specialists, including surgeons, dentists, and speech therapists, considering the specific needs and circumstances of your child.

Cleft Lip, Palate Repair Benefits

Cleft lip and palate repair offer several important benefits for individuals with these birth Cleft lip and palate repair offers a multitude of benefits for individuals born with these conditions, encompassing improvements in both physical and psychological well-being.

By closing the gap in the lip and palate, it becomes easier to suck, swallow, and feed efficiently. This reduces the risk of aspiration and potential related difficulties.

Repairing the cleft palate improves the separation between the oral and nasal cavities, which is crucial for proper speech production. This helps prevent speech delays or difficulties and allows for clearer communication.

Cleft palate can sometimes lead to recurrent ear infections and hearing problems. Repairing the palate can contribute to better middle ear ventilation, reducing the risk of these problems and potentially improving hearing outcomes.

Cleft lip and palate repair helps restore a more natural-looking upper lip and palate, which can significantly improve self-esteem and confidence.

Reduced social isolation as cleft lip and palate can sometimes lead to social isolation or difficulties in social interactions. Repairing these conditions can improve social interactions and reduce feelings of isolation, contributing to better overall well-being.

Improved appearance, speech function, and overall health associated with repair can significantly improve self-confidence and social interactions, impacting individuals’ quality of life positively.

Untreated cleft lip and palate can sometimes lead to dental problems. Repairing these conditions can contribute to better oral hygiene and a healthy dental environment.

Early repair can potentially prevent or minimize the need for additional procedures later in life to address complications like speech difficulties or ear infections.

While every individual’s experience is unique, cleft lip and palate repair can significantly improve their lives by addressing functional limitations, enhancing appearance, and fostering improved psychological and social well-being.

What Causes Cleft Lip or Palate?

The exact cause of cleft lip, like many birth defects, remains unknown in most cases. However, research suggests a combination of factors likely plays a role:

Having a family history of cleft lip or palate increases the risk, though most cases are not inherited. Specific genes have been linked to cleft lip in some cases, but these are only a small part of the picture.

Some medications taken during pregnancy, like anti-seizure medications or methotrexate, may slightly increase the risk. Smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy can negatively impact fetal development and are associated with a slightly higher risk.

Inadequate folic acid intake can be a factor. Folic acid is crucial for proper development during pregnancy, and deficiency is linked to a small increase in cleft lip risk. And some studies suggest potential links between exposure to specific chemicals during pregnancy and cleft lip, but more research is needed.

It is important to remember that in most cases, nothing a mother did or did not do during pregnancy causes cleft lip.

The risk factors mentioned above are not guarantees, and many babies born with cleft lip have no known risk factors. Research on the causes of cleft lip is ongoing, and scientists are constantly learning more about the complex factors involved.

Schedule A Consultation Today

There are several congenital conditions that can affect your child’s oral health, smile and appearance. One of the most common congenital conditions worldwide is cleft lip and palate.

Cleft lip and cleft palate are a result of the incomplete development of the facial structures while the child is in utero. A cleft lip and cleft palate can make eating, speaking and hearing difficult later in life. Cleft lip and cleft palate can occur independently of each other or can occur together in the same child.

We can treat several congenital oral and facial disorders, including cleft lip and palate. During your initial consultation, our surgeons will evaluate the condition of your child and will review with you the treatment options that will best improve your child’s condition.

Often, treatment of cleft lip and palate requires a team of caring providers to help assist your child in every aspect of their life. We will work closely with all those providers to make sure your child receives full and comprehensive care. We are committed to helping your child so that they can enjoy the lifestyle they deserve.

Please call us today to make an appointment with our surgeons and learn more about our treatment options for cleft lip and palate.

Our Experienced Oral Surgeons

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Dr. Robert Buch, DDS, MD

Dr. Buch received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree (DDS) in 1992 from the Medical College of Virginia School of Dentistry in Richmond, Virginia. After serving 3 years as an active-duty dentist in the U.S. Navy, he completed a four-year oral & maxillofacial surgical residency in 1999 at the University of Cincinnati Hospitals in Cincinnati, Ohio. His passion for surgery, medicine, and knowledge led Dr. Buch to complete his Medical Degree (MD) at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 2001.