Cleft Lip & Palate Repair

Cleft lip and cleft palate.Cleft lip and cleft palate are among the most common birth defects, estimated to affect around one in 700-800 babies born in North America. Both problems result from the incomplete formation of anatomical structures (the lips and the palate, or “roof of the mouth”) which develop during early pregnancy. These conditions may occur separately or together, and they can have a wide variation in severity. With proper treatment, however, in most cases the child has an excellent chance of leading a healthy, normal life.

Besides the noticeable irregularity in appearance, a cleft lip or palate can cause difficulties with feeding and speech. Both conditions are also associated with ear infections, hearing loss and dental problems. To fully address these problems, a child may require several surgical procedures, performed at different times. That's why a team approach is often used to treat this complex condition. Members of the medical team may include an oral surgeon, a pediatric dentist, an orthodontist, a plastic surgeon, and other specialists.

In general, the first goal of treatment is to repair or “close” the gap in the lip and/or palate as soon as it is practical for the child — as early as 2 to 9 months of age. Follow-up treatment may be needed to restore the appropriate form and function of the lips, teeth, and jaws (for proper speech, eating, etc) and to correct hearing problems. These procedures may include plastic surgery, orthodontics, orthognathic (jaw) surgery and speech therapy.

Surgical Treatment for Cleft Lip or Palate

Cleft lip or palate surgery is usually performed in a hospital setting, and may be done when an infant is 6 to 12 weeks old. Intravenous sedation or general anesthesia is used, so your child won't experience any pain. In cleft lip surgery, an incision is typically made on each side of the cleft. This creates several “flaps” of tissue, which are then sutured (stitched) together to close the gap. Suture lines are generally planned to follow the facial contours, so that the surgical scar will be as unobtrusive as possible.

Cleft palate treatment involves rebuilding the roof of the mouth, including soft tissue, muscle and bone. The initial surgery is often performed between the ages of 6 and 18 months. Like cleft lip surgery, it relies on specialized “flap” techniques to reposition soft tissues and close the gap. Before or after surgery, your child may need to wear a special appliance such as an obdurator (artificial palate) or a nasal alveolar molding device (NAM), a type of retainer.

Follow-Up Treatment

Depending on how complex the child's condition is, additional procedures may be required after the initial treatment to fully correct any defects. A child's treatment plan will often include pediatric dental examinations beginning around age one. Bone grafts to repair the hard palate may be recommended at age 8-11 years, when the cuspid teeth are developing. To correct problems with the alignment of teeth, orthodontic care may be needed beginning around age 12. In some situations, orthognathic surgery is recommended to address more severe jaw problems.

Handling a child's cleft lip or palate can be a challenge for caregivers and family members — but it's important to keep in mind that this relatively common birth defect can be successfully treated. Many who have this condition have gone on to become well-known performers, politicians, sports stars… as well as moms and dads, friends and neighbors.

Related Articles

Dentistry and Oral Health for Children - Dear Doctor Magazine

Dentistry and Oral Health for Children Dear Doctor magazine brings you this wide-ranging overview of milestones and transitions in your child's dental development. Learn how to protect your children from tooth decay, dental injuries, and unhealthy habits while getting them started on the road to a lifetime of oral health and general well-being... Read Article

Oral Health - Dear Doctor Magazine

How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health Proper oral health habits are easy to learn — and lead to behaviors that result in lifelong dental health. And the time to begin is as soon as your child's first baby teeth appear. From toothbrushing for your toddler to helping your teenager stay away from tobacco, Dear Doctor magazine offers the most important tips for healthy habit formation through childhood and beyond... Read Article

Top 10 Tips for Children - Dear Doctor Magazine

Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Children There's no need to wait until your baby actually has teeth to lay the foundations for good oral or general health. In fact, good nutrition and oral hygiene can start right away. It is up to you to develop the routines that will help protect your child from tooth decay and other oral health problems. So let's get started... Read Article

Dr. M N95 mask

**IMPORTANT CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 4/01/2020**

Dear Patients,

 It’s April 1st and our family at Metsger Dental were so hoping to have been serving your dental appointments by this time; however, this health crisis is still ongoing and controlling both our business and personal lives.


I am very happy to let you know that myself, Dr. Clark, and each of our staff and all our families have remained healthy throughout this ordeal. That accomplishment came at the expense of you (our patients) in the form of social distancing.

We have processes in place at this time to make it up to you when we are able to return.

What to do if you have a current appointment scheduled:

We anticipate most or all of our April appointments will need to be rescheduled. We are very disappointed but our staff and your health and safety come first at this time. No need to call and reschedule. When things begin to clear a member of our staff will contact you.

What to do if you have a dental emergency:

I have secured the proper (PPE) personal protective equipment including the N-95 masks necessary to see patients. These emergencies, as defined by the ADA, must include: swelling,
or bleeding with pain involvement. If you fall into these categories, please call the office number. The answering service will contact me.

I truly look forward to seeing everyone soon. We plan on returning strong with an extra clean and sterile environment and safety protocols.

I really appreciate your understanding and of course from our work family to yours we hope you stay safe and healthy.

P.S. Brush and Floss at least one or more times per day!

See You Soon.

L. Kevin Metsger

Contact Us

Questions About Dental Services in Greensburg, PA


520 Pellis Rd Ste 4000
Greensburg, PA 15601

We encourage you to contact us whenever you have an interest or
concern about dentistry procedures such as porcelain veneers, dental implants, and tooth whitening in Greensburg. 

 Contact us by phone at 724-837-5009.


Patient Forms

Our Location

Find us on the map

Hours of Operation

Our Regular Schedule

Progressive Dental Studio

Monday:

8:30 am-7:30 pm

Tuesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

7:30 am-7:30 pm

Thursday:

7:30 am-3:30 pm

Friday:

7:30 am-3:30 pm

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed