What is a cleft palate?

Patients often hear cleft lips and cleft palates in the same sentence. Those suffering from one often suffer from the other as well. The cleft palate is a birth defect specifically contains an opening into the nose through the roof of the mouth. The two plates of the skull not completely joining together cause a cleft palate, whether it’s incomplete (not totally separating) unilateral (only on one side), or bilateral (both sides). Both the hard palate and the soft palate are cleft; the condition occurs in about 1 in 700 live births. Genetics, syndromes, and behaviors during pregnancy can all impact the chances of a baby being born with a cleft palate.

There are a lot of dangerous side effects patients have to deal with on the road to cleft palate procedures, particularly when the surgery isn’t performed a few months after birth like most specialists recommend. A Park Avenue Manhattan surgeon will be able to treat you and manage the condition post-surgery. If doctors aren’t treating a cleft palate when they should, the condition can result in feeding problems, speech and hearing disorders, and even frequent ear infections. Infants will have difficulty with suction, for example, which means that they will have problems nursing or taking a bottle. Patients may become malnourished as a result and find it difficult to hold every day conversations. The latter side effect is considered a psychosocial problem, impacting the patient’s happiness and self esteem.

Surgery is the best method of cleft palate treatment. A diagnosis is usually made at birth, though a prenatal diagnosis is becoming more accurate as well. From there, the method of treating a cleft palate that a Park Avenue Manhattan surgeon will take is based on the type and severity of the cleft. As the patient grows up, there may be multiple surgeries necessary to correct jaw positioning and other dental problems. For this reason, some surgeons will monitor the patient over time once the cleft palate is corrected. Waiting to do the additional surgeries until there are more permanent teeth means fewer procedures later on.

Park Avenue oral and maxillofacial surgeons make up a craniofacial team with some of the best doctors and specialists in the field. They follow a schedule in terms of treatments and surgeries the patients will need, though variations can be made based on the individual patient’s condition.