Cleft Lip & Palate

Cleft Lip

During early pregnancy separate areas of a child’s face develop individually and then join together, including the left and right sides of the roof of the mouth and lips. However, if the sections don’t meet the result is a cleft. If the separation occurs in the upper lip, the child is said to have a cleft lip.

A completely formed lip is important not only for a normal facial appearance but also for sucking and to form certain sounds made during speech. A cleft lip is a condition that creates an opening in the upper lip between the mouth and nose. It looks as though there is a split in the lip. It can range from a slight notch in the colored portion of the lip to complete separation in one or both sides of the lip extending up and into the nose. A cleft on one side is called a unilateral cleft. If a cleft occurs on both sides, it is called a bilateral cleft.

A cleft in the gum may occur in association with a cleft lip. This may range from a small notch in the gum to a complete division of the gum into separate parts. A similar defect in the roof of the mouth is called a cleft palate.

Cleft Palate

The palate is the roof of your mouth. It is made of bone and muscle and is covered by a thin, wet skin that forms the covering inside the mouth. You can feel your own palate by running your tongue over the top of your mouth. Its purpose is to separate your nasal cavity from your mouth. The palate has an extremely important role during speech because when you talk it prevents air from blowing out of your nose instead of your mouth. The palate is also very important when eating; it prevents food and liquids from going up into the nose.

As in cleft lip, a cleft palate occurs in early pregnancy when separate areas of the face develop individually and do not join together properly. A cleft palate occurs when there is an opening in the roof of the mouth. The back of the palate is called the soft palate and the front is known as the hard palate. A cleft palate can range from just an opening at the back of the soft palate to a nearly complete separation of the roof of the mouth (soft and hard palate).

Sometimes a baby with a cleft palate may have a small chin and a few babies with this combination may have difficulties breathing easily. This condition may be called Pierre Robin sequence.

Since the lip and palate develop separately, it is possible for a child to be born with a cleft lip, palate or both. Cleft defects occur in about 1 out of every 800 babies.

Children born with one or both of these conditions usually need the skills of several professionals to manage the problems associated with the defect such as feeding, speech, hearing, and psychological development. In most cases, surgery is recommended. When surgery is done by an experienced, qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon such as Dr. Portnof, Dr. Gebrael or Dr. Gianatasio, the results can be quite positive.

Cleft Lip Treatment

Cleft lip surgery is usually performed when the child is about ten years old. The goal of surgery is to close the separation, restore muscle function, and provide a normal shape to the mouth. The nostril deformity may be improved as a result of the procedure, or may require a subsequent surgery.

Cleft Palate Treatment

A cleft palate is initially treated with surgery safely when the child is between 7 to 18 months old. This depends upon the individual child and his/her own situation. For example, if the child has other associated health problems, it is likely that the surgery will be delayed.

The major goals of cleft palate surgery are to:

  1. Close the gap or hole between the roof of the mouth and the nose
  2. Reconnect the muscles that make the palate work
  3. Make the repaired palate long enough so that it can perform its function properly

There are many different techniques that surgeons will use to accomplish these goals. The choice of techniques may vary between surgeons and should be discussed between the parents and the surgeon prior to surgery.

The cleft hard palate is generally repaired between the ages of 8 and 12, when the cuspid teeth begin to develop. The procedure involves placement of bone from the hip into the bony defect, and closure of the communication from the nose to the gum tissue in three layers. It may also be performed in teenagers and adults as an individual procedure, or combined with corrective jaw surgery.

What can be expected after the surgery?

After the palate has been fixed children will immediately have an easier time swallowing food and liquids. However, in about one out of every five children that have the cleft palate repaired, a portion of the repair will split, causing a new hole to form between the nose and mouth. If small, this hole may result in only an occasional minor leakage of fluids into the nose. If large however, it can cause significant eating problems, and most importantly, can even affect how the child speaks. This hole is referred to as a “fistula,” and may need further surgery to correct.

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Surgical Arts of Boca Raton

5 out of 5 stars based on 38 Cleft Lip & Palate reviews

Excellent service will highly recommend

- Cynthia S

5 out of 5 stars on

Very pleased with office staff, courteous, printed receipt when needed after payment made. Dr. G and the rest of the staff are extremely friendly.

- Loretta B

5 out of 5 stars on

Great experience I never thought having a tooth pulled would be such a great experience!

- Arlene G

5 out of 5 stars on

The entire staff was friendly especially Lisa and Krystal.

- Robert J

5 out of 5 stars on

Best experience I’ve ever had at a dental offfice.

- Elaine S

5 out of 5 stars on

The Doctor is wonderful and so is his staff, I give this office 5+ stars and would definitely recommend..

- Roslyn H

5 out of 5 stars on

GreAt experience professional staff kind courteous. Highly recommend

- Jeffrey Faust

5 out of 5 stars on

This office and staff truly care about their patients. The Dr. Pornof is fantastic My sinus lift and implant turned out great. Go to this doctor for quality care.

- Karen d G

5 out of 5 stars on

Doctor P has an excellent team that actually cares about their patients! I had a broken jaw and had to go in for surgery! Because of this Covid stuff going on I couldn’t have any friends or family at the hospital. Dr. P made me feel so comfortable going into surgery it was a relief! The best thing was he had me out of the hospital in a day!! Best doctor hands down and has a heart of gold!! Thanks

- Christopher C M

5 out of 5 stars on

Thank you so much Dr. And team! Once healed, I look forward to living out of tooth pain.

- Michelle H

5 out of 5 stars on

Dr. Portnof is very friendly and knowledgeable. He answered all of my questions and gave me peace of mind. I highly recommend Dr. Portnof !

- Robert W

5 out of 5 stars on

the best doctor portnof and his staff with Danita she was the best also lisa thank you all for helping me in my time of trouble all you were the very best so thank you very much louella valenti

- louella v

5 out of 5 stars on

I had my wisdom teeth taken out this past February and the doctor and staff were great and were very kind to me. I was anxious at first but they reassured me that I would be alright and my healing process was great. No dry socket or anything! 🙂 Dr. Portnof and Danita are very nice people and are experienced with their jobs.

- Gabriela G

5 out of 5 stars on

I took my Husband for a tooth Extraction, and him being a stroke patient the help from the staff was God sent. The receptionist at the front Ms. Nardia was so great with us. When we went on the inside there I met the rest of the staff. Ms. Danita, the care of heart she had helping me transferring my husband from the wheelchair unto the dentist chair. How she explained the procedure to him, to him making sure he understood everything, which was done very slowly and with great compassion knowing his health condition. And then here comes Dr. Jason Portnof, could this get any better of course. The procedure was done before I knew it. They made sure his script was sent over to the pharmacy, which was giving a little trouble but they went above and beyond to make sure it went through before we left. Great team, clean environment. Dr. Jason to you and your staff, continued blessing on your business. you guys made his day.

- Fay F

5 out of 5 stars on

Dr. London is the BEST!!! He is skilled, kind and compassionate. My daughter had 4 wisdom teeth extracted with no pain and recovered quickly. He put my mind at ease immediately. The team is VERY friendly, the office is immaculate and the overall experience was amazing. I highly recommend Dr. Michael London, he is genuine and caring, his follow-up is above par!!

- MaryLou W

5 out of 5 stars on

Rodrigo the dental assistant was amazing, the entire staff and doctor treated me like a king.

- Ellis B

5 out of 5 stars on

Dr. Portnof was an excellent surgeon with good bedside manners. Highly recommended.

- Andrea K

5 out of 5 stars on

Caring involved excellent follow through highly recommended.

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5 out of 5 stars on

The doctor is the best and the staff deserves 20 stars

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5 out of 5 stars on

Everything was productive and efficient

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5 out of 5 stars on