When an infant’s face develops in the womb, the left and right side grow separately until they eventually join together. In some cases, however, proper development does not occur, and the two sides are unable to connect, resulting in a gap. This space, often called a cleft, is most common in the upper lip or the roof (palate) of the mouth. Clefts cause problems for a child’s appearance and oral function. On average, 1 out of 700 children will be born with a cleft lip and/or palate.
The palate, which most people know as the roof of the mouth, helps facilitate proper oral function by separating the nose and mouth. The separation ensures that food and air are not traveling between the mouth and nose during eating, speaking, and breathing, which could cause more serious health problems. In cases of a cleft, eating, speaking, and breathing are difficult because of the space in the palate. Fortunately, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are specially trained to address this condition and help restore oral function.
Often, several surgeries are performed to close the gap in the palate. Our team can perform the first procedure when the child is still young, as well as any subsequent procedures as the child ages and the palate grows. During surgery, your oral surgeon will reconnect the muscles, ensuring the palate is completely closed and the right size to function properly.
Similar to cleft palate, a cleft in the lip refers to a gap. A cleft lip makes it incredibly difficult for babies to nurse properly, which can then result in nutritional and other problems. Our team can perform surgery when the baby is still young to correct the gap and prevent malnutrition.
Cleft Lip and Palate at Oral & Facial Surgeons of Illinois
Early treatment of cleft lip and palate are crucial to correcting the conditions and restoring oral function and the child’s appearance. Our doctors have undergone extensive training in the full scope of oral and maxillofacial surgery and are highly qualified to treat clefts of all types and severity. We are a part of the cleft team and are in constant communication with other specialists who may take part in their care. Contact one of our offices to learn more or to schedule a consultation appointment.