PEDIATRIC CLEFT LIP AND PALATE 👶🏻
A cleft is a gap or split in the upper lip and/or roof of the mouth (palate). It is present from birth.
The gap is there because parts of the baby's face didn't join together properly during development in the womb.
A cleft lip may require one or two surgeries depending on the extent of the repair needed. The initial surgery is usually performed by the time a baby is 3 months old.
Repair of a cleft palate often requires multiple surgeries over the course of 18 years. The first surgery to repair the palate usually occurs when the baby is between 6 and 12 months old. The initial surgery creates a functional palate, reduces the chances that fluid will develop in the middle ears, and aids in the proper development of the teeth and facial bones.
Children with a cleft palate may also need a bone graft when they are about 8 years old to fill in the upper gum line so that it can support permanent teeth and stabilize the upper jaw. About 20% of children with a cleft palate require further surgeries to help improve their speech.
Once the permanent teeth grow in, braces are often needed to straighten the teeth.
Additional surgeries may be performed to improve the appearance of the lip and nose, close openings between the mouth and nose, help breathing, and stabilize and realign the jaw. Final repairs of the scars left by the initial surgery will probably not be performed until adolescence, when the facial structure is more fully developed.
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