Cleft Palate Rehabilitation Explained

Craniofacial Orthodontics - Cleft Palate

Cleft Palate Rehabilitation Explained

Everyone wants their child to go through life with the least amount of problems possible; however, for parents who have a child born with a cleft palate, it can seem like the road ahead is bound to be very difficult.  While specialists such as oral and plastic surgeons are necessary to help children overcome the issues surrounding cleft palates, craniofacial orthodontics also play a special role in helping individuals receive treatment to recover from these birth defects.  Keep reading to discover the ways that craniofacial orthodontics help with cleft palate rehabilitation.

What is a Cleft Palate?

Craniofacial OrthodonticsA cleft palate is a birth defect that develops while the baby is forming in the womb.  During the early stages of development, tissue does not form correctly, leaving babies without the proper amount to connect the area behind the top teeth.  Sometimes this split occurs closer to the front of the mouth on the bony section, but it also happens near the back where the mouth is softer.

Cleft palate is a serious but all-too-common occurrence with one out of every 700 babies being affected by the condition.  Aside from simply presenting an abnormal appearance, cleft palates and cleft lips can also cause serious health problems if they are not properly treated.  Eating difficulties, ear infections, hearing loss, dental problems, and speech issues are just a few of the side-effects of cleft palate.  Untreated, children may also struggle with self-esteem problems for the rest of their lives.

How is Cleft Palate Treated?

Children who experience cleft lip or palate will most likely need surgery to treat the condition.  These surgeries are generally more successful the earlier they are done, so craniofacial orthodontists recommend surgery when the infant is three to six months old with future surgeries when they are older.

The first surgery is used to repair the palate to provide the jaws and teeth the space to grow properly, while the second surgery typically involves a bone graft to incorporate permanent teeth.   While most children only need two surgeries to repair the cleft palate, more extreme cases may require additional treatments.

What Role Do Orthodontics Play in Rehabilitation?

Most parents don’t think of turning to an orthodontist when their baby is born with a cleft palate; however, a craniofacial orthodontist plays an important role in the child’s treatment.  While an orthodontist will not be able to perform the necessary surgeries, they can help parents with young children understand how to care for teeth as they start to come in.

The orthodontist will work with the team of professionals to ensure that your child has the best outcome following their treatment regime.

How Can a Craniofacial Orthodontist Help?

Depending on the severity of the cleft palate, a craniofacial orthodontist can help by providing patients with a toothette that can clean hard-to-reach places due to bite malformations.   Through the use of braces, craniofacial orthodontists can align teeth correctly, giving children a healthier appearance while eliminating problems with their bite.

By working alongside the surgeons and speech therapists, orthodontists can discover the best way to provide braces along with other dental appliances like palate lifts and speech bulbs.

How Soon Should Children See an Orthodontist?

All children should see a dentist by their first birthday, and those suffering from a cleft palate can benefit from care even sooner.  Children should start to see a craniofacial orthodontist long before teeth start to emerge, giving the orthodontist a chance to develop a plan for braces in the future.

While a cleft palate can seem overwhelming to new parents, the proper treatment and rehabilitation can work to remedy the problem.  With the right care, children can overcome the obstacles associated with cleft palate, reducing the effects and making it possible for them to live a happy, fulfilling life!

If your loved one was born with a cleft palate, please contact Orthodontists Associates of WNY today for a free consultation. Let our experience work for you.

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