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Cleft Lip & Palate Complications – Houston, TX

Why Treatment Is So Vital


cleft palate word cloud

A small percentage of children are born with a specific congenital defect — cleft lip and/or cleft palate. These conditions can certainly affect a child’s appearance, but aesthetics are not the only concern. Left untreated, these abnormalities can lead to a number of serious complications. This page discusses some of those complications and how treatment from oral surgeons in Houston may be able to prevent them.


Feeding Difficulties

breastfeeding mother and child

The palate, the roof of the mouth, plays an important role in the feeding process. Whether there is a partial or complete cleft in the palate, a child may find it extremely difficult to feed. This problem becomes especially apparent during breastfeeding or bottle feeding, when the child cannot produce enough suction to take in the breastmilk or baby formula. A Houston oral surgeon may be able to repair this problem within the first year or two of a baby’s life, depending on the child’s health and unique facial structures.

Speech and Language Problems

Cleft lip and palate cam cause a decrease in muscle function, which in turn can make it difficult for children to learn to speak properly. They may not be able to clearly form certain sounds, or there may be delays in their learning to speak. A speech therapist may be able to help with such issues to a degree, but a consultation with an oral surgeon in Houston, who may be able to repair the cleft lip and palate, is also recommended.

Someone with a cleft lip may also have an overly nasal voice. This occurs because the palate does not properly separate the mouth from the nose, so air escapes through the nose during speaking.

Ear Infections and Hearing Loss

baby’s hearing test

Ear infections are quite common in children with cleft lip and/or cleft palate. These may be due to improperly angled Eustachian tubes, which connect the nasal area to the ears. The improper angle can allow food and other substances to sneak into the ear and lead to repeated infections. The infections, in turn, may lead to a degree of hearing loss.

The most common type of hearing loss in children with cleft palate is known as glue ear, wherein a sticky fluid builds up in the middle ear. The buildup stops sound from passing from the middle ear to the inner ear, causing partial deafness. Glue ear is usually temporary and can occur in children both with and without cleft palate, but it often persists for much longer in children with cleft palate.

Dental Problems

Improper tooth development is common in children with cleft lip and cleft palate due to abnormalities in the facial structures. Thus, the teeth may come in misaligned and require orthodontic treatment later on.

Addressing Cleft Lip and Palate Complications

after cleft lip surgery

If your child has cleft lip and/or cleft palate, bring them to your Houston oral surgeons for a consultation. At Piney Point Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we have the expertise and experience required to address such issues and enable children to enjoy an improved appearance and a reduced risk of the abovementioned complications. Contact us today to learn more about how we may be able to help your child.