Cleft Lip & Palate

Cleft Lip

During early pregnancy separate areas of a child’s face develop individually and then join together, including the left and right sides of the roof of the mouth and lips. However, if the sections don’t meet the result is a cleft. If the separation occurs in the upper lip, the child is said to have a cleft lip.

A completely formed lip is important not only for a normal facial appearance but also for sucking and to form certain sounds made during speech. A cleft lip is a condition that creates an opening in the upper lip between the mouth and nose. It looks as though there is a split in the lip. It can range from a slight notch in the colored portion of the lip to complete separation in one or both sides of the lip extending up and into the nose. A cleft on one side is called a unilateral cleft. If a cleft occurs on both sides, it is called a bilateral cleft.

A cleft in the gum may occur in association with a cleft lip. This may range from a small notch in the gum to a complete division of the gum into separate parts. A similar defect in the roof of the mouth is called a cleft palate.

Cleft Palate

The palate is the roof of your mouth. It is made of bone and muscle and is covered by a thin, wet skin that forms the covering inside the mouth. You can feel your own palate by running your tongue over the top of your mouth. Its purpose is to separate your nasal cavity from your mouth. The palate has an extremely important role during speech because when you talk it prevents air from blowing out of your nose instead of your mouth. The palate is also very important when eating; it prevents food and liquids from going up into the nose.

As in cleft lip, a cleft palate occurs in early pregnancy when separate areas of the face develop individually and do not join together properly. A cleft palate occurs when there is an opening in the roof of the mouth. The back of the palate is called the soft palate and the front is known as the hard palate. A cleft palate can range from just an opening at the back of the soft palate to a nearly complete separation of the roof of the mouth (soft and hard palate).

Sometimes a baby with a cleft palate may have a small chin and a few babies with this combination may have difficulties breathing easily. This condition may be called Pierre Robin sequence.

Since the lip and palate develop separately, it is possible for a child to be born with a cleft lip, palate or both. Cleft defects occur in about 1 out of every 800 babies.

Children born with one or both of these conditions usually need the skills of several professionals to manage the problems associated with the defect such as feeding, speech, hearing, and psychological development. In most cases, surgery is recommended. When surgery is done by an experienced, qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon such as Dr. Lee or Dr. Sarasin, the results can be quite positive.

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Cleft Lip Treatment

Cleft lip surgery is usually performed when the child is about ten years old. The goal of surgery is to close the separation, restore muscle function, and provide a normal shape to the mouth. The nostril deformity may be improved as a result of the procedure, or may require a subsequent surgery.

Cleft Palate Treatment

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 and his/her own situation. For example, if the child has other associated health problems, it is likely that the surgery will be delayed.

The major goals of cleft palate surgery are to:

  1. Close the gap or hole between the roof of the mouth and the nose
  2. Reconnect the muscles that make the palate work
  3. Make the repaired palate long enough so that it can perform its function properly

There are many different techniques that surgeons will use to accomplish these goals. The choice of techniques may vary between surgeons and should be discussed between the parents and the 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.

What can be expected after the surgery?

After the palate has been fixed children will immediately have an easier time swallowing food and liquids. However, in about one out of every five children that have the cleft palate repaired, a portion of the repair will split, causing a new hole to form between the nose and mouth. If small, this hole may result in only an occasional minor leakage of fluids into the nose. If large however, it can cause significant eating problems, and most importantly, can even affect how the child speaks. This hole is referred to as a “fistula,” and may need further surgery to correct.

Spring Park Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons

5 out of 5 stars based on 42 Cleft Lip & Palate reviews

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

Dr. Sarasin did a great job pulling a bad tooth I had. No pain at all. Six hours after pulling I had no soreness at all. I did not realize how I had become used to the tooth hurting. Thanks so much, Dan

- Dan W

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Our Latest Patient Testimonial

I had to get my front tooth extracted and then put an implant in. The staff was great and caring. And Dr. Lee was friendly and kind himself. Told me each process of his procedure as he was doing it. I was done in no time. No bleeding when I went home. Just took a few Ibuprofen just to make sure I didn’t get any pain. Get job!

- Debby J

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I have no pain after surgery which was a pleasant surprise

- Alicia E

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Having all four of my wisdom teeth extracted at 43 was definitiely NOT something I wanted to do! I was a nervous, anxious mess going in for my appointment! I was greeted with a smile by the receptionist and taken back fairly quickly by Tiffany who was absolutely wonderful. She was chatty and calming and answered all of my questions. While I waited for Dr. Lee, Tiffany checked on my frequently making sure I was as comfortable as I could be. When Dr. Lee came in, he was equally calming (as much as possible in my tearful state!). I had IV sedation and the whole process was seamless and very quick! I am currently at post-procedure day four and have had almost no pain, no bruising, and very little swelling. I cannot thank Dr. Lee and his team enough for their care and would absolutely recommend them to anyone!

- Jamie H

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All of the staff was very nice but especially, Tiffany. Her patient care skills went above and beyond expectations. Dr. Lee was also very nice and did a great job.

- Carol H

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Our Latest Patient Testimonial

I would highly recommend this practice. I had a consultation and the same day my wisdom tooth was extracted. Dr. Sarasin was very comforting and calming by explaining exactly what he was going to do. His assistants were reassuring and encouraging by making sure I was comfortable the entire time. I found everyone to be friendly and helpful from the front desk to Dr. Sarasin and his team of assistants. Thank you to all who had a part in my experience.

- Sheila G

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Dr. Dan is one of kindest, genuine men that you will be lucky enough to interact with. His philosophy of The Golden Rule has served him and many in his life well. He has helped so many because it was the right thing to do. I believe Watch one, Do one, Teach one along with slow and steady win the race. He thinks of others before himself. He has made a lasting impression on my family!

- DANA M

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Our Latest Patient Testimonial

Going in for a tooth extraction and implant with Dr Lee was the best dental experience I've ever had. Dr Lee is exceptional both in skill and in his warm, upbeat, positive manner. The outstanding staff went out of their way to ensure my comfort while waiting for surgery, patiently and thoroughly answering questions. I will recommend Dr Lee and Spring Park without hesitation. It is rare to find a team that works so well together. Thanks to everyone at Spring Park.

- Jan H

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Our Latest Patient Testimonial

From the time I stepped into the office, from the front office staff, nurses and doctor was a wonderful experience. The entire office staff was phenomenal. Very friendly atmosphere and they explain everything to you. I would definitely recommend this facility.

- John H

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I grew up in a time that going to the dentist was a very painful and unpleasant experience. When told that I needed a dental implant I was extremely apprehensive about the upcoming procedure. Spring Park got me in quickly for an appointment. The front office was friendly and helpful. Dr Lee and his staff were very thorough in explaining the procedure and put me very much at ease. It was over before I knew it. I had no problems following the procedure. I would highly recommend Dr Lee at Spring Park for Oral Surgery.

- Pam D

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Very kind staff and was taken care of without any problems whatsoever. They were very descriptive with pre/post surgery instructions that made everything go easier

- Nathaniel E

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What a wonderful team, caring, friendly. They explained everything and made my little girl, and I feel at ease. Dr. Smith and his team are excellent. Thank You!

- Giselle C

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Great customer care started when I entered . Everyone is professional and compassionate. I had a dental implant and I was well informed of procedure, cost and aftercare. The doctors are wonderful as well as everyone who helped me thru my process. I received follow up call after the surgery and also a bouquet of flowers . I have NEVER received flowers from a medical procedure. They have a beautiful facility, with wonderful people. Highly recommended. I even contacted my dentist to share this great experience , to refer his future patients that require surgery.

- Vicki W

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Our Latest Patient Testimonial

They were out of my dental plan insurance but everyone is kind courteous and caring. I would go back if they were in my dental plan.

- Daniel S

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Dr. Lee and his team were wonderful when our children had to have their wisdom teeth removed. The care before, during and after the procedure were great! Would highly recommend to anyone that has to have extensive dental work done!

- Kim W

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I am a big baby when it comes to all medical treatments and especially dental ones. They were incredibly patient and explained this thoroughly. That team today rocked! I made a decision to have more teeth extracted than I had planned and it was the right decision. Thank you so much to all of you who worked with me today!

- Julie A

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I have used Dr. Lee and his staff a number of times over the years and my wife recently had an implant and experienced the same level of treatment as I had over the years. I was amazed at while they treat many patients they remember you and make you feel like a valued friend versus just a paying customer. My granddaughter is scheduled for a visit in the coming month and I feel confident in the care she will be given. I wish all medical care facilities operated in the same fashion since the bar has been set pretty high by Dr. Lee and his team

- Mike S

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Dr. Smith is a very caring and mild mannered man. I never had a front tooth extraction before and he did a great job. He was always asking if I was ok through the whole procedure. Painless, which to me meant the world.

- Renee P

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Our Latest Patient Testimonial

Sincerely, this was the best facility I have ever been to. The staff were so friendly, welcoming and professional. Dr. Smith was great! He and his staff made this whole process seamless. He is genuinely an awesome surgeon. I highly recommend him.

- Terry H

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Our Latest Patient Testimonial

This was the second time that I'd had a procedure done at Springpark, both with Dr. Smith. Each time I've been treated well, from the time that I walked in until I left. Everyone is friendly, professional, and knows what they're doing. Dr. Smith and his staff are amazing, working efficiently, checking on my comfort level frequently, and doing a great job. The follow-up is good, also. I have nothing but positive things to say about my experiences at Springpark.

- Janice F

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