If your child has been diagnosed with a cleft palate, you may be curious about what the process looks like for getting them the treatment they require to enhance their ability to eat and communicate. Below, we look at some of the basic information surrounding cleft palate treatment, diagnosis and orthodontic support, so you can get a better idea of how to take care of the ones you love most.  

What Is a Cleft Palate and How Is It Diagnosed?

A cleft palate occurs during fetal development when the tissue that makes up the palate (roof of the mouth) does not join before birth. Some children are born with both the front and back of the palate remaining open, while others may only have one part that failed to fully form.

The formation of the roof of the mouth typically occurs between the sixth and ninth week of pregnancy, so your doctor may be able to recognize a cleft palate, but likely only if it is accompanied by a cleft lip. A cleft palate alone is more difficult to diagnose prior to birth, but once the baby arrives, your doctor will be able to identify whether your child’s palate has formed properly.

What is the Process for Cleft Palate Treatments?

Children diagnosed with a cleft lip or palate may require several treatments. Cleft Palate is typically treated with surgery, however, procedures such as speech therapy and dental treatments may be required to address additional symptoms.

Why and How Do You Treat a Cleft Palate?

The goals of treating a cleft palate are to ensure your child can speak, eat and hear optimally as they develop throughout their life. Craniofacial orthodontic specialists, who thoughtfully and successfully address your child’s cleft palate, will also help reduce the likelihood of ear infections, deafness and significant dental problems, which may accompany an untreated cleft palate.

Each child is unique, so their treatment plans will vary. However, children are usually eligible for surgery to repair a cleft palate by the age of 12 months. If possible, your child may be able to be treated with a craniofacial orthodontic procedure prior to their first birthday.

Once your orthodontist deems your child ready to undergo treatment, they will perform surgery to repair the roof of your child’s mouth, including the soft and hard palate. This will likely include repositioning the tissues and muscles that make up the little one’s mouth, but your orthodontist can provide a better idea of the procedure during your initial and follow-up meetings.

Cleft Palate Aftercare and Follow Up

Even with the most expert care, your child may need follow-up surgeries any time between the age of 2 and up through to late adolescence. These surgeries will continue to support your child’s ability to function optimally and achieve optimal aesthetic results.

If your child has been diagnosed with a cleft palate, it’s essential to work with an orthodontic team that will provide your whole family with the ongoing support, expert treatment and sound advice you need – until you reach the point where you and your child are happy with the results.

At Wonder West Orthodontics, we understand the importance of family and are committed to caring for your kiddos like they’re our own, so please don’t hesitate to book a consultation with us to get the craniofacial orthodontic support your child deserves.