Thousands of babies are born with cleft lips and palates every year in the United States. They are the most common birth defects. Although doctors are unsure of what exactly causes this facial malformation, experienced oral surgeons are sure of how to correct them.

Cleft palates and lips occur in early pregnancy, around four to seven weeks, according to the CDC. When the tissue that forms the palate and or lips do not join properly, a space is left and this is called a cleft. Possible causes for this condition include: smoking during pregnancy, a history of diabetes, the use of certain epilepsy medications and a change in the child’s genes.

This diagnosis causes many problems for children. First it inhibits the infant’s ability to suck and eat. As the child grows it becomes hard for them to make sounds and speak properly. Eventually the abnormal facial appearance can cause the child psychological problems.

For a cleft palate, we like to treat the child between seven to 18 months after birth. The sooner we improve their ability to eat, the healthier the child will be. We will normally treat the hard palate when the child is eight or 12, after their cuspid teeth begin to develop. Cleft lip treatments are usually performed when the child is ten years of age. This procedure restores muscle function and a normal shape to the mouth.

Cleft palate and lips are a very serious surgery and should be performed by an experienced surgeon like Dr. Sedaros.