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Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate

Treatment Allows Your Child To Achieve Full Functionality of the Lip and Palate

A cleft lip or cleft palate is a common birth defect in which the two sides of the lip or roof of the mouth do not fuse together during fetal development. A child may be born with a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both. Infants born with a cleft may have difficulty feeding and maintaining suction, and leaving this condition untreated can severely impact the child’s ability to eat and speak properly.

Dr. Karas holds both dental and medical degrees and performs the delicate surgery needed to correct this birth defect in infants. Depending on the severity, care may involve an oral surgeon, a pediatrician, and a speech pathologist. With proper treatment, your child will achieve full oral function and a pleasing appearance.

Leaving Orofacial Clefts Untreated

Children with a cleft lip or palate will have a more difficult journey learning how to eat from breastfeeding or bottles. Their speech will be affected by the improper development of oral structures, which could negatively impact their willingness and ability to communicate during early childhood. By having your child’s orofacial cleft treated by a trusted professional, you can avoid the following complications:

  • Higher risk of ear infections
  • Hearing loss caused by untreated ear infections
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A nasal-sounding voice accompanying speech difficulties
  • Higher risk of cavities
  • Higher risk of extra or malformed teeth

With treatment, most children with clefts do well and lead healthy lives. Special bottles can help children with clefts achieve adequate nutrition, but surgery is eventually necessary to restore full function and prevent other complications.

Treatment for Cleft Lips and Cleft Palates in Walnut Creek, CA

During the consultation, Dr. Karas and his team will evaluate your child’s oral health and take 3D scans to get a more detailed look at the facial structures. Then, he will design a treatment plan that is unique to your child’s needs. Dr. Karas and his surgical team offer many anesthesia options to keep your child as comfortable as possible during any type of surgical procedure.

A cleft lip requires 1–2 surgeries, the first performed before the infant is 3 months old. Your surgeon will close the separation to restore muscle function to the upper lip. An additional procedure may be required later on to improve the appearance and function of the nasal passages. Traces of the cleft typically vanish completely during the teenage years once facial growth has finished.

A cleft palate requires multiple surgeries over the course of 18 years, the first performed between 6–12 months. Your oral surgeon will close the gap in the roof of the mouth and reconnect the muscles. A bone or soft tissue graft is usually required to close the communication.

Orthodontic treatment may be necessary to ensure the adult teeth align and develop correctly once the child enters puberty. Dr. Karas will outline the specific details of your child’s treatment so you know exactly what to expect.

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