Cleft lip and cleft palate are some of the most common congenital deformities in the world. An infant can be born with a cleft lip, a cleft palate or both. Surgery for the correction of a cleft lip is typically performed by the time an infant is 12 months old. Cleft palate repair is usually performed by the time a child is 18 months old. An individual with a cleft lip and/or palate can expect to undergo multiple sequential surgeries over the first 18 years of his or her life. These surgeries create a functional lip and palate, aid in proper speech development, reduce middle ear problems, help reduce social stigmas and aid in the proper development of the teeth and facial bones.
As a member of a team of healthcare specialists, your oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS) plays an important role in the carefully orchestrated, multiple-stage correctional program for cleft lip and palate patients. The goal is to help restore the jaw and facial structures, leading to normal function and appearance. Treatment must consider function, appearance, nutrition, speech, hearing as well as emotional and psychological development. Multidisciplinary care teams can provide vital resources and support for your family.
Craniofacial anomalies are congenital malformations of the skull and face. These range from common anomalies, such as cleft lip and palate, to rare malformations. Treatment is aimed at regaining a range of function and improved appearance.
Any child with a head or facial abnormality should be evaluated by a specialist. Parents should discuss their concerns with a pediatrician and proceed with the appropriate referral to a surgeon.
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