Dr. McKinney of Sandstone Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery has a passion for helping children in need of cleft lip or cleft palate surgery. It is a critical treatment which can help with the peace of mind of many young patients.
Repairing cleft lips and palates for patients in Oklahoma is a passion of Dr. McKinney’s. This restoration can be life-changing, especially for young patients. In the Oklahoma City metro, patients who seek this procedure should understand what will happen throughout.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are two common but markedly different birth defects that affect about one in about 700 newborns. These developmental deformities occur in the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy; cleft lip in week seven, and cleft palate in week nine.
A cleft lip is the separation of the two sides of the lip, which often includes the bone and gum of the upper jaw. A cleft palate occurs when the sides of the palate fail to “fuse” as the fetus is developing, which results in an opening in the roof of the mouth.
The cleft deformities are categorized according to their location in the mouth and the size of the defect.
Unilateral Incomplete: A cleft on only one side of the mouth that does not extend as far as the nostril.
Unilateral Complete: A cleft on only one side of the mouth that extends into the corresponding nostril.
Bilateral Complete: Larger clefts affecting both sides of the mouth which each extend as far as the nostril.
Microform Cleft: A mild case of cleft lip which may simply form a bump on the lip, or a small scar line extending toward the nostril.
A cleft palate is initially treated with surgery safely when the child is between 7 to 18 months old. This depends upon the individual child.
The major goals of surgery are to:
- Close the gap or hole between the roof of the mouth and the nose.
- Reconnect the muscles that make the palate function.
- Make the repaired palate long enough so that the palate can perform its function properly.
There are many different techniques surgeons use to accomplish this. The choice of techniques will be discussed between the parents and the oral surgeon prior to surgery.
The cleft hard palate is generally repaired between the ages of 8 and 12 when the cuspid teeth begin to develop. The procedure involves placement of bone from the hip into the bony defect, and closure of the communication from the nose to the gum tissue in three layers. It may also be performed in teenagers and adults as an individual procedure or combined with corrective jaw surgery.
Reasons for cleft lip and cleft palate correction:
Cleft lip and cleft palate are highly treatable deformities, though it may take a whole team of different specialists to fully treat the condition. The prognosis for sufferers who receive corrective treatment is excellent; medically, physically, dentally, and emotionally. There are however, a series of risks for those who do not receive corrective treatment:
Speech – Children born with either cleft deformity are likely to experience speech problems unless treatment is sought. Speech problems are detrimental to a child’s social and emotional development.
Feeding – Babies with a cleft palate or a complete cleft lip have problems drinking milk. The gap means that liquids can pass from the mouth to the nasal cavity. This can be dangerous unless the child is fed sitting upright.
Hearing Loss & Frequent Ear Infections – A cleft palate can cause the eustachian tubes (connecting the throat to the ear) to be incorrectly positioned. The fluid build up which results