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. Berkley, Dr. Boucher, Dr. Romeo, Dr. Rockoff, Dr. Bosco or Dr. Traub, 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.

Connecticut Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Centers

5 out of 5 stars based on 19 Cleft Lip and Palate reviews

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

Dr Erik Sayles extracted a tooth for me today. It was totally painless! He and his office staff put me at ease and were supportive and very professional. I highly recommend Dr. Sayles.

- Julie S

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

I love the staff they are great I like all the doctors dr hoang is fabulous Kristen at the front desk was great and the assistant with the Dr is awsome I can't remember her name but she's great if ur nervous about getting your tooth pulled no need to be here they put u right at ease I highly recommend this office

- Nicholas mastropietro

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

Dr Hoang performed my extraction. He was amazing, considerate and calming. It was over so fast. I highly recommend him.

- Kerry O

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

I needed a painful wisdom tooth extracted! The office was very accommodating by giving me a prompt appointment! I’ve been to this office many times, however, I never had Dr. Hoang . All the doctors are great, but I was very impressed by Dr. Hoang. He was personable and very capable! I didn’t even realize that he had my tooth out! No pain! He was wonderful!! I highly recommend him, as well as this office!!

- Anna S

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

If you need this type of service I highly recommend the office. 5

- Patricia A

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

Dr. Hoang performed my wisdom teeth removal (all four) 2 weeks ago and I’m feeling so grateful with how smooth the whole procedure and recovery went! He was very friendly, knowledgeable and professional. I was very nervous for weeks leading up to the surgery, but it went SO much better than expected and everything healed properly. I would recommend Dr. Hoang to anyone, and I already have to my family and friends! Thank you to everyone in the West Haven office.

- Gabrielle G

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

I was very nervous about having my lower right wisdom tooth removed, because it had been causing me sensitivity issues for over a year, and I have had issues with other dentists getting that area numb enough to work on. I told Dr. Berkley about my feelings, and he magically removed it, without any pain at all!! I didn't even realize he pulled it, because he didn't tell me, and he must have been extremely graceful!! THANKS to him and his staff, I'm toothless now in my wisdom area.

- Stephanie B

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

I was put at ease & treated with great care. As a person desperately fears the dentist, my experience here was 5 star in every catagory especially Dr. Brocher.

- Francine J

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

My 15 year-old daughter was quite anxious about getting a few teeth extracted. Dr. Boucher was incredibly kind and patient, reassuring her that her feelings were normal. She talked her through what to expect. Emily, the nurse was also helpful and even held my daughter's hand through it. My daughter raved about the process and their competence and kindness. The entire office staff was helpful and professional. Great experience!

- Lisa C

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

I went for my wisdom teeth removal on sept 1 2021, Lori I was really nervous about feeling the shots so I got laughing gas given to me and at first I didn’t feel it but then I started to feel very calm and my body went numb in a good way don’t want to scare anyone then I got numbing gel and when doctor Claiborne gave me the shots in my mouth I didn’t even feel it they just felt like pinches but it didn’t hurt it was was more uncomfortable but I zoned out when they were putting the shots in and done back in all I felt was pressure no pain I was done with my procedure within 30 mins I’d say or less I have the most awesome experience don’t be afraid I was sooo afraid cause of what I read online but dr. Claiborne And Lori are the best I even got medicine afterwards for my teeth and a certificate and a little bag telling me about after care and it had extra gauze in it :))))

- Cheyanne J

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

As a new patient scared and in pain the overall rating for this staff and office is beyond measurable. They were polite, helpful even when it came not understanding some of the medical questions the girls at the front desk were helpful as well as the nurses in the back. Doctor Berkley was exactly what his reputation brought him to be, helpful honest and incredible work and I did not feel any pain. This office is definitely a place I'd recommend to family or even my own mother. Definitely grateful for all of their help and compassion behind what they do. Thank you again and don't hesitate, you're in pain get in there it will be well worth it. Thanks again to everyone at the west haven office.

- Meagen B

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

I saw Dr. Sayles today for an extraction. I was very nervous but the assistants were very kind and helped me relax. Dr. Sayles was excellent, he explained my situation and made me feel at ease. Before I knew it my tooth was removed, my anticipation of the appointment was far worse than my experience. I have not even needed any pain medication. So relieved, Great Dental Team...

- Laurie P

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

I called for my daughter they got me in the same day, and the dr we saw (in Meriden office) absolutely love him! He was amazing! My daughter has anxiety really bad and he was so Great with her!! Really amazed with this practice and the dr and staff!!!

- Jackie C

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

I couldn't ask for a more relaxing interaction between Dr. Clairborne, Lori & I. They were absolutely fabulous & a delight to be around & have do the surgery I needed. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THESE PROFESSIONALS IF YOU NEED ANY WORK TO YOUR MOUTH DONE.

- Kenneth B

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

Multiple teeth were removed. I did not feel any pain and procedure was over before I knew it. Dr and staff made me extremely comfortable. I would not hesitate to recommend the doctor.

- Eloise S

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

I was very scared and in pain going in for an extraction after being referred from another dentist . The receptionist who took my call was amazing and understood I couldn’t wait for this broken tooth to come out. She booked me the first spot of the day the next day. The assistant was wonderful and I was so nervous . The Dr. Numbed me up very well with only three pokes in the mouth and some gas. Closed my eyes counted to ten he was done. I was amazed . I literally cried tears of relieve and gratitude. Thank you so much to everyone who works at the New Britain office!!!

- Heather F

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

I received excellent care! Dr. Berkly was very kind, funny and professional in explaining the process of the procedure which helped tremendously to ease my anxiety about removing my wisdom teeth. With nurse Jackie’s help, Dr. Berkly removed three of my wisdom teeth. He was gentle and quick with the removal and the quality of his work testifies to his skill and experience as a surgeon. I felt close to no pain after the surgery! Though he prescribed pain medicine, I didn’t need it. For the first two days after surgery I took over the counter 200 mg Advil to alleviate some discomfort and that was all! Thank you Dr. Berkly for making what would have been a stressful and uncomfortable time, a painless one!

- Kevin L

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

I had an infected wisdom tooth extracted. April was amazing. Dr. Berkley was knowledgeable, experienced, detailed, extremely informative, and answered all questions. He was finished so quickly just like a pro. He is the epitome of a perfect doctor. I highly recommend. I gave 4 stars on staff bc the front desk can be a bit more humble and smile a bit, it makes a huge difference on how the front desk staff greets and treats patients anywhere. A bit of kindness goes a long way way. Again I would highly recommend as the doctor and staff in the back are top notch! Also the office if very clean.

- Esmeralda O

5 out of 5 stars on

Our Latest Patient Testimonial

A positive experience. I will definitely return when I need to. A big thank you to Dr. Berkeley & Staff !

- Cheryl Y

5 out of 5 stars on