Cleft Lip and Palate Treatment

Once your child is diagnosed with an orofacial cleft, you’ll be referred to a team of experts.

This is because there are varying degrees of cleft lip and palate, and treating them involves more than just a plastic surgeon to repair the cosmetic aspects. Wiewiora and Dunn Orthodontics is proud to work as a part of your healthcare team to help improve your child’s oral and craniofacial health!

What causes cleft lip and cleft palate?

Cleft palates occur when the lip and the bone in the roof of the mouth fail to differentiate at critical points during your child’s development in the womb. In most cases, there is no cause of orofacial clefts, and parents can’t prevent it. There are some theories about what causes cleft lip and cleft palate, such as:

  • Cleft lip and palate are caused by a combination of genetics and environmental factors (as cleft lip and palate often run in families)
  • Or cleft lip and palate are caused by taking certain medications during pregnancy, such as anti-seizure meds, Accutane®, and methotrexate

While there’s no proven scientific-explanation behind the cause of cleft lip and palate, there are other factors that can contribute to this congenital disorder: 

How does an orthodontist treat cleft lip and palate?

Although an orthodontist is usually part of your child’s initial healthcare team at birth, the specific treatment they provide (orthodontics) usually comes near the end of your child’s cleft lip and palate treatment. 

Between the ages of 6 and 9, your pediatric or family dentist may refer you to an orthodontist for an evaluation as your child is at a significant risk of developing tooth or jaw bone abnormalities. It’s best to have your child see an orthodontist before or at age 7, no matter what, as orthodontic conditions from your child’s prior cleft lip and palate become apparent at this age. 

During your first visit, our highly-trained orthodontists will examine the health of your child’s teeth and jaw bones and may recommend a specialized orthodontic treatment plan. 

Here are a few treatment options that Dr. Wiewiora and Dr. Dunn often recommend for past cleft lip and palate patients.

Signs your child may benefit from orthodontics

Nearly 1 in every 1,600 babies are born with cleft lip and palate. Although corrective surgeries during their early childhood can help improve their quality of life, these children are still at a risk for developing dental problems such as missing or malformed teeth and may have other conditions. 

An alveolar bone defect is common in children with cleft lip and palate. This bone is extremely important in tooth movement as it’s the bone that holds your tooth roots in place! A digital x-ray will reveal if your child has a bone defect and may require a bone graft for safe and efficient tooth movement. 

Whether your child had cleft lip or palate repair surgery at a young age or both, their disorder could have affected more of their craniofacial and oral health than you realize. But with regular dental check-ins and proper treatment, their quality of life can be improved! Maybe your child has just accepted these symptoms as normal, but these are some of the most common signs your child could benefit from orthodontics: 

  • Trouble Eating. Teeth and jawbones in alignment allow your child to easily chew their food into smaller pieces, the ideal size for proper digestion!
  • Speech Problems. Many parents think their child’s lisp or trouble pronouncing ‘S’ and ‘T’s stem from their age. But sometimes a jaw misalignment is the culprit!
  • Emotional Distress. A cleft lip is notorious for giving a “harelip” appearance to your facial structure. Even children with repaired clefts may unfortunately experience bullying and suffer from low self-esteem due to the surgical scar that can take years to fade. 

Still have questions about orthodontic treatment for cleft lip and palate patients?

Our team knows how seriously a cleft lip and palate can affect your child’s quality of life from our work with the Arnold Palmer Pediatric Craniomaxillofacial surgery team in Orlando, FL. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s condition, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

Dr. Wiewiora, Dr. Dunn, and our experienced team are here to guide and support you and your child along their treatment process, while they achieve their perfect smile.

Ready to get started? Request your complimentary consultation at one of our conveniently located orthodontist offices in Lake Mary or Longwood today!

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550 Rinehart Rd.
Lake Mary, FL 32746

2855 W. State Road 434, #1011
Longwood, FL 32779

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