About 1 in 1000 babies in the US are born with cleft lip or palate. Clefts are developmental irregularities that occur when the palate, gums, and lips do not join properly during fetal growth. At Piney Point Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, our Houston, TX surgical team provides patients custom, multi-disciplinary treatment plans to treat cleft lip and palate, and related oral and overall health concerns.
Types of Cleft Lip & Palate
Clefts can be unilateral (on one side of the mouth) or bilateral (on both sides of the mouth). Clefts are referred to as complete or incomplete. Incomplete cleft lip is an indentation that stops before the nose, and incomplete cleft palate is a small hole most often associate with a simple cleft palate. Complete cleft lip reaches the nose, and complete cleft palate is a large gap typically leading into a bilateral cleft lip. There are five main types of cleft lip and palate:
- Cleft palate only
- Unilateral cleft lip – a cleft on one side of the lip (complete or incomplete)
- Bilateral cleft lip – a clef on both sides of the lip (complete or incomplete)
- Unilateral cleft lip and palate – A cleft that extends from the palate to the lip on one side of the mouth
- Bilateral cleft lip and palate – A cleft that extends from the palate to the lip on both sides of the mouth
Phases of Treatment
At Piney Point Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we offer a team approach to treatment for cleft lip or palate. Treatments can begin as soon as the child is three months old, in certain cases. Our team works with otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors), plastic surgeons, orthodontists, nutrionists, and speech pathologists to create a custom treatment plan for every patient. Phases of treatment typically include:
- Cleft lip correction – performed between 3 and 6 months of age
- Cleft palate correction – performed between 9 months and year old
- Bone grafts – when permanent teeth begin to develop, patients may need bone grafts to adequately support teeth.
- Orthodontics including orthognathic surgery – many patients with cleft lip or palate will need to correct bite alignment, with traditional orthodontics (braces) or orthognathic surgery.
- Cosmetic procedures – as patients grow older and are able to be more active in planning treatment, they may wish to treat non-functional aspects of cleft lip and palate such as scaring.
- Speech therapy – once children begin talking, it’s essential to work with speech pathologists at the earliest indication that children may be experiencing difficulty speaking.
Find Out More about Oral Surgery Houston
If your child has a cleft lip or palate, contact Piney Point Oral and Maxillofacial surgery today. Our team of skilled oral surgeons will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan.