First Steps If You’ve Received a Cleft Palate Diagnosis

If you are reading this, it is likely your child has been recently diagnosed with a cleft palate. This occurrence is not unprecedented. In fact, about 1 in every 1,600 babies in the U.S. is born with a cleft palate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It can, however, be an overwhelming time filled with uncertainty. Here, at Minnesota Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we are committed to providing expert advice and guidance in navigating these early phases. In this article, we will walk you through the first steps after a cleft palate diagnosis, and we will support you throughout your child’s treatment journey.

Understanding Cleft Palate Diagnosis

During your child’s early physical exams, a cleft palate diagnosis is typically made. This condition occurs when your child’s upper jaw (the palate) does not properly fuse during development, resulting in an open space (or cleft) in the roof of the mouth.

While it’s a serious condition, advancements in oral and maxillofacial surgery have made it possible to address and correct a cleft palate, steering children towards a healthy oral functionality and appearance. The professional team at Minnesota Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Minneapolis, MN has extensive experience in treating this condition, and we are here to guide and support you and your child every step of the way.

What are Your First Steps After a Cleft Palate Diagnosis?

Assemble a Multidisciplinary Team

A diverse team of healthcare professionals will be involved in managing your child’s cleft palate treatment, including:

  • Pediatrician
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeon
  • Speech-language pathologist
  • Psychologist or social worker
  • Dentist and orthodontist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Audiologist

The role of these professionals extends beyond the surgical correction of the cleft. They collectively focus on enhancing the overall physical and psychosocial well-being of the child.

Planning for Surgery

Surgical intervention is the primary treatment for cleft palate. Typically, the surgery is conducted during the child’s first year of life, between 6 and 12 months of age. This initial consultation with your oral and maxillofacial surgeon is paramount. During this meeting, we will review:

  • The objectives of the surgery
  • The procedure details
  • Possible risks and complications
  • The recovery period

Our team at Minnesota Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery ensures that you are armed with all the necessary information to make an informed decision.

Preparing for Post-Surgery

Recovery from cleft palate surgery is a process. While immediate post-operative care mostly involves pain management and ensuring adequate feeding, your child’s long-term rehabilitation will focus on functional and cosmetic outcomes.

  • Building Speech and Language Skills: The collaboration with your speech-language pathologist will play a crucial role in addressing any potential speech issues.
  • Dental Care: Regular visits to your dentist and orthodontist will ensure good oral hygiene and monitor the development of your child’s teeth and jaws.
  • Hearing: Regular hearing checks with your audiologist are essential to manage any potential hearing issues associated with the condition.

What’s Next?

A cleft palate diagnosis can come with many questions and concerns, and that’s perfectly normal. The initial period can be filled with various emotions and uncertainties, but remember, you are not alone in this journey. Your first steps after a cleft palate diagnosis will set the path for your child’s successful treatment and bright future.

At Minnesota Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we combine expertise in surgical matters with comprehensive patient care. Our seasoned and empathetic team is here to provide support, guidance, and expert medical attention, ensuring your child has the best start to overcome their cleft palate.

Remember, every child is unique, and by working closely with your multidisciplinary team, we can tailor the management and treatment plan to meet your child’s individual needs. The goal is to provide them with the opportunity to lead a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.