Wonder West Orthodontics provides specialized and industry-leading craniofacial orthodontics and treatments for patients in and around London, Ontario. Dr. Foley has worked on the Thames Valley Children’s Centre (TVCC) cleft team, supporting cleft lip and palate surgeries for 20 years serving London and Southwestern Ontario. Our team is here to help patients and their families further understand the process involved with cleft palate and lip repair and what’s involved with craniofacial orthodontics, in particular the management of cleft lip and palate.

What Is Craniofacial Orthodontics?

Craniofacial orthodontics is a specialized form of orthodontic treatment that provides patients with congenital disabilities such as cleft lip and palate, and other jaw and facial abnormalities with treatment solutions. Craniofacial orthodontists often work alongside a team of skilled oral surgeons, craniofacial plastic surgeons, pediatric dentists, and speech pathologists in an effort to correct these conditions.

Craniofacial Orthodontic Management and Care

As a member of a TVCC cleft and craniofacial team in London, our orthodontists will evaluate the current development and growth of the jaw and teeth. We will perform non-surgical treatment to correct the position of the jaws and handle any pre- and post-operative treatment relating to craniofacial surgery so that we may monitor growth and changes using orthodontic molds and X-rays. These records are to be stored at Thames Valley Children’s Centre for a long-term evaluation of these craniofacial & cleft patients.

What Is a Cleft Lip & Palate?

Cleft palate and lip are common craniofacial abnormalities that can develop at birth where parts of the upper lip and mouth can remain split instead of properly sealed together. These facial splits can also take place in the roof of the mouth or palate of a young child. This craniofacial defect occurs in the early stages of a baby’s development; however, the cause of cleft palate and lip are still unknown. Recent research shows that there appears to be a link between genetics and the environmental exposures that are experienced during pregnancy.

Craniofacial Orthodontic Treatment Options to Manage Cleft Lip & Palate

Cleft Palate & Lip Treatment for Infants

The treatment for cleft lip and palate for infants is most likely craniofacial orthodontic surgery. A team of specialized craniofacial orthodontists and specialists can develop an orthodontic management plan that is unique to the patients’ needs and development. Depending on the severity of the case, more than one surgery may be necessary. The team at Wonder West Orthodontics’ role in cleft lip and palate care starts at birth, where we fabricate infant orthopedic cleft palate appliances to prepare for cleft lip and palate repair surgery.

Alveolar Bone Grafts & Orthodontic Treatment

At around age 8, our craniofacial specialists will review children with alveolar bone concerns for orthodontic treatment to prepare for an alveolar bone graft. In most cases, expansion of the maxilla and bone grafting of the alveolus (the tooth-bearing portion of the upper jaw) is necessary, with the expansion beginning at about 8 to 9 years of age. The purpose of the maxillar jaw expansion is to bring the child’s teeth into the correct relationship to each other. When this has been deemed successful, the maxillo-facial surgeon then places a bone graft (harvested from the top of the hip bone) to replace the missing bony tissue. The expanded position of the dental arch is maintained for 6 to 12 months by which time the bone graft should have taken successfully. The procedure should be completed by the age of 10.

Braces for Cleft Palate Patients

Full orthodontic alignment can start with the use of fixed braces when all the permanent teeth have erupted (usually by the age of 12-13 years) for cleft lip and palate patients.

Orthognathic Surgery

In a significant number of cleft lip and palate cases, orthognathic surgery to correct a misalignment of the dental arches is necessary and this surgery is carried out at about 18 years of age. In many cases, this surgery yields very good results.

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Before and After Cleft Palate Treatment

Cleft palate treatment is a transformative procedure that enhances the quality of life for affected individuals. See how orthopedic cleft palate appliances have helped patients.

Cleft Lip and Palate

Unilateral Left Cleft Lip

Bilateral Left Cleft Lip

Craniofacial Orthodontics in London, ON

For more information regarding craniofacial orthodontics, cleft lip and palate treatment plans and patient support, please contact the team of orthodontic professionals at Wonder West Orthodontics to schedule your appointment.