At Oral Surgery Specialists of Idaho in southeast Idaho, we are proud to provide the full scope of oral surgery services to patients of all ages, including pediatric oral surgery for young children and infants. One of our specialties is the surgical treatment for cleft lip and cleft palate . During the first trimester of pregnancy, if parts of the lip or mouth do not completely fuse together normally, a facial cleft can be formed. Infants born with a facial cleft — either a cleft lip, cleft palate, or both — often develop feeding issues and dental and speech problems as they grow. Frequent ear infections and other chronic problems may also occur, including hearing loss. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons agree that the earlier treatment begins, the better, as children are developing quickly, and treatment by specialists carefully factors in this development to provide optimal facial function and aesthetics. It also benefits the child to have these surgeries performed early so that they can benefit from their newly gained functionality as they grow. The process for treating cleft palate and cleft lip cases will span several years of the patient’s life, ideally beginning during the child’s first year to close the lip cleft and form a functional palate.
The course of your child’s treatment will depend on their condition and will be discussed in detail during your consultation appointment with your oral surgeon. Drs. Baker and Jepsen and their world-class surgical team have extensive training and experience treating cleft lips and palates and have specialty training in the administration of safe and effective anesthesia and surgical monitoring of pediatric patients. Our team will provide the compassionate care, time, and expertise that your child deserves.
Some of the health issues that a cleft lip or palate can cause include the following:
- Problems with eating and drinking. The palate is another word for the roof of the mouth. It is made of bone, muscle, and skin. It is also the area of tissue that separates the mouth from the nasal cavities, so when there is a cleft or opening in the palate, food and liquid can easily pass into the nose, which makes normal eating and drinking extremely challenging. Cleft lip and palate can also make normal breathing difficult.
- Speech issues. Normal speech requires a complex interplay between the lip and palate, and abnormalities in these areas can affect speech development. While surgery can sometimes correct speech issues, some cases will require a speech specialist to help the child in this area.
- Hearing problems and ear infections. Excess fluid buildup can be a problem for children with a cleft palate, causing middle ear problems, which in turn causes an increased risk for recurrent ear infections and can lead to hearing loss if not treated properly.
- Oral health problems. Children with cleft palates can suffer many oral health problems such as excess cavities, missing or extra teeth, misaligned or malformed teeth, or alveolar ridge defects. Early treatment of cleft lip and palate by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is recommended to avoid these issues.
There are many incredible treatments for cleft lip and palate that offer beautiful and functional results for our young southeast Idaho patients. It takes a team of skillful specialists to complete the treatment, and oral surgeons are a key part of this care team. We will work closely with your child’s medical care team to repair the cleft lip or cleft palate and achieve the very best results. At our practice, we have your child’s comfort as well as long-term well-being in mind.
Surgical Treatments for Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate in Pocatello and Blackfoot, ID
With so many advances in surgical techniques, most children with cleft lip and/or palate will enjoy normal speech, eating, and breathing after undergoing treatment. As oral and maxillofacial surgeons with specialty training, Drs. Baker and Jepsen will account for your child’s growth and developmental stage when performing pediatric surgery. If you have any further questions about cleft palate and cleft lip treatment at our practice, or questions about any of the procedures we offer, please contact us to schedule a consultation. We appreciate the opportunity to care for you and your family at Oral Surgery Specialists of Idaho.