Cleft lip and palate is one of the most common birth defects, affecting upwards of 1 in 700 babies. Fortunately, an oral surgeon can intervene to correct these issues when a child is relatively young, sparing the child emotional and physical difficulties that can result from cleft lip and palate. Typically, clefts are repaired during the first year of the child’s life.
Cleft lip and palate can make a child’s speech difficult to understand, as well as affecting the child’s ability to chew in addition to his or her appearance. These are all compelling reasons to consult with an oral surgeon as early as possible regarding an intervention to address these issues.
With specialized education and experience focusing on the structures of the jaw, an oral surgeon is well-qualified to perform the procedures needed to correct cleft lip and palate. If your child has both of these issues, which happens in about 50 percent of cases, two surgeries likely will be necessary and they will be spaced several months apart to give your child adequate time to recover. The cleft lip is generally repaired first, when the child is between 3 and 6 months of age. Cleft palate surgery takes place later, between ages 9 months and one year.
You will need to monitor your child closely in the days and weeks following the cleft lip and palate repair. Your child’s surgeon will give you more detailed instructions about post-operative care at the consultation and after the surgery.
Repairing a child’s cleft lip and palate has wide-ranging benefits for well-being and appearance. Children can tolerate these surgeries at a very young age, so if you want to get your child started on cleft lip and palate repair, call our team at Commonwealth Oral & Facial Surgery to schedule an evaluation.