Cleft Lip and Palate Repair

Cleft Lip and Palate Repair
Posted on 01/17/2020
This is the image for the news article titled Cleft Lip and Palate RepairCleft Lip and Palate Repair

Among the most common birth defects, cleft lip and cleft palate affect approximately 1 in 800 babies born in North America. Luckily, oral/dental treatment exists to help affected children live a healthy, normal life.

What Are Cleft Lip & Palate?

Cleft lip and palate are birth defects resulting from the incomplete formation of anatomical structures during early pregnancy. The names vary based on the location of the impartial formation (either the lip or the roof of the mouth, referred to as the palate). These two conditions may occur separately or together.

The severity of the symptoms vary from case-to-case. Cleft lip and cleft palate are distinguishable by a separation or opening in the palate or lip. As a result, the individual may have difficulties with feeding and speech. Additionally, both conditions are associated with ear infections, hearing loss, and dental problems. To treat these symptoms and others that may arise, work with an oral/dental specialist to develop a treatment plan.

Causes & Risk Factors

Doctors know that cleft lip and cleft palate are congenital defects, meaning they’re present at birth. While experts assume they are genetic conditions, the cause has not yet been determined. Scientists believe cleft lip and cleft palate may be linked to certain factors during pregnancy, such as…

  • Certain medications
  • Viral illness
  • Tobacco or alcohol use
  • Vitamin deficiency

Cleft Lip & Palate Treatment

Cleft palate and cleft lip are complex conditions requiring a team of medical professionals. In general, the first goal of treatment is to repair or “close” the gap in the lip and/or palate as soon as it is practical. Typically, this may be at as early as 2 to 9 months of age. However, your child may require several surgical procedures at different points in their childhood. In addition to your trusted children’s dentist, you may work with an oral surgeon, a skilled orthodontist like Dr. Carl Dann, a plastic surgeon, or other specialists.

For the initial surgery, your child will receive intravenous sedation or general anesthesia, ensuring that he or she doesn’t experience any pain during the procedure. Both conditions rely on a specialized “flap” procedure; this consists of incisions to create “flaps” of tissue around the affected area. These flaps are then stitched together in order to close the gap.


Depending on how complex the child's condition is, follow-up procedures may be required after the initial treatment to fully correct any defects in form and function of the lips, teeth, and jaws. These follow up procedures may include plastic surgery, orthodontics, orthognathic (jaw) surgery, and speech therapy. Our friendly orthodontists may be able to provide you with a list of recommended specialists for consultations in these areas of treatment.

We Care about Our Patients’ Smiles

Cleft lip and cleft palate can be a daunting undertaking for the family of a newborn. Our team wants you to know that you don’t have to go through it alone. If you have questions about oral/dental development, need specialist recommendations, and/or are on the lookout for how to best protect your child’s smile for the future, please contact us. We are happy to help and advise you in any way that we can! Book an appointment with our orthodontist in our Orlando or Winter Park office today