Eating, speaking, hearing, and breathing – these are essential functions that many parents take for granted, things that parents of a child with a cleft palate are painfully aware of. Often concurrent with a cleft lip, a cleft palate presents a distinct challenge for children, their parents, and healthcare professionals. Our team is prepared to face this challenge and achieve a positive outcome through advanced techniques for cleft palate repair honed over more than 30 years of specialization.
At Plastic and Craniofacial Surgery for Infants and Children, we provide compassionate care for children with congenital disorders and birth defects. Request a consultation online or call us at (469) 375-3838 to schedule a time to meet with our skilled team. We take a deep personal interest in the overall wellness of the children who visit our practice, caring for their spirit as we heal their bodies.
Evaluation and Treatment
A cleft palate is an incomplete formation of the roof of the mouth. It often occurs as part of cleft lip/cleft palate (CL/CP) deformity. However, it can also appear in isolation. Clearly, these deformities affect not only function, but aesthetics as well. Thus, treatment is imperative for physical and emotional wellbeing.
Several factors will determine the method and timing of treatment:
- If a cleft lip or other malformations are present
- The extent of the cleft (it may involve only a portion at the back of the mouth or it may extend all the way from front to back)
- If the cleft is unilateral (on one side of the upper mouth) or bilateral (on two sides of the upper mouth)
A small percentage of children with cleft palate (particularly with a submucous cleft palate) may not require surgery. However, in the vast majority of cases, surgical intervention is necessary. While a variety of specific surgical techniques exist, the general goal is to move tissue and muscles from the sides of the cleft to the midline of the mouth. It may also be necessary to surgically lengthen the palate.
Repairing the cleft may be a step in a longer journey; additional procedures are often required to refine the results. If the dental arch is affected, it may be necessary to use a bone graft to strengthen the ridge and allow teeth to grow normally. Other procedures may include scar revision, nose surgery, or jaw surgery. These procedures are generally performed later in life. Many children also require speech therapy.
Recovery can be a challenge after any pediatric surgery – after surgery at any age, for that matter. After cleft palate repair, you will need to follow specific instructions for feeding your child and, perhaps, for restraining them so that they do not irritate the surgical site. Remain diligent, follow instructions, and your child’s recovery will be as smooth as possible.
A Happy, Healthy Child
For parents of children with a cleft palate, our message is simple: your child can go on to lead a full and healthy life. The challenges of surgery and recovery are far outweighed as you watch your child thrive. However daunting a cleft palate may seem, it is a challenge that has been faced by hundreds of thousands of families the world over. Having seen many boys and girls with cleft palates, we’ve developed safe and effective techniques for functional and aesthetic improvement.