Craniofacial Orthodontics

Craniofacial Orthodontics – Cleft Lip and Palate

What is Craniofacial Orthodontics?

Craniofacial orthodontics is a sub-specialty of orthodontics that focuses on the treatment of patients with birth defects such as cleft lip and palate. The orthodontist will work with a team comprised of speech pathologists, oral surgeons, and craniofacial plastic surgeons in planning treatment to correct cleft lip and palate, as well as other jaw and face abnormalities. As a member of a craniofacial team, a craniofacial orthodontist evaluates tooth and jaw development and growth. He or she takes care of the non-surgical treatment of the position of the jaws, and is also responsible for the pre- and post-operative treatment of jaw surgery, monitoring growth by means of X-rays and models.

What is a Cleft Lip and Palate?

Cleft lip and cleft palate are facial malformations in which the parts of the face that form the upper lip and mouth remain split, instead of sealing together before birth. Similar splits can occur in the roof of the mouth, or palate. Clefting results when there is not enough tissue in the mouth or lip area, and the tissue that is available does not join together properly. While the defect occurs in early fetal development, in most cases, the cause is unknown. However, there appears to be a link with genetics and maternal environmental exposures during pregnancy.

While there are certainly aesthetic considerations associated with cleft lip and palate, having this birth defect can affect people in many more serious ways.

  • Difficulty Eating – When there is a separation or opening in the palate, food and liquids can pass from the mouth back through the nose. While waiting for surgery, patients can use specially designed prosthetics to help keep fluids flowing downward towards the stomach, ensuring that they receive adequate nutrition.
  • Speech Difficulties – Because the upper lip and palate are not properly formed, it may be difficult for children to speak clearly, and when they do, it may produce a nasal sound. As speech may be hard to understand, a speech pathologist may be used to resolve these issues.
  • Ear Infections – Cleft lip and palate can lead to a buildup of fluid in the middle ear, leaving children at a higher risk for ear infections, and if not properly treated, even deafness. To prevent infections, small tubes may be placed in the eardrums to facilitate fluid drainage.
  • Dental Problems – Children who suffer from cleft lip and palate also often have missing, malformed, or displaced teeth, leading to a higher number of cavities and other dental and orthodontic issues.

Treatment

The treatment for cleft lip and palate is most likely surgery, and this is where your craniofacial orthodontist and team of specialists come in. Depending on the severity of the case, more than one surgery may be necessary. In children, surgery usually takes place between three and six months of age.

A Few of Our Smiles


What our Patients are Saying


"John Kelley has partnered with us in transforming the H.O.P.E. Farm Boys into men. Kelley Orthodontics has the ability to help our boys develop confidence in their appearances and more importantly their characters. The Kelley Orthodontics team has been an irreplaceable instrument in the success of our program. John Kelley and the Crew… you are the best! "

"Professionalism and efficiency usually don't mix well with warm hospitality, but somehow at Dr. Kelley's office you find it blended comfortably together at every visit. Dr. Kelley not only takes his work seriously but also his relationship with you, the patient. You will not find a more friendly, helpful staff anywhere. "

"When I first found out I was getting braces, I got kind of worried, but Dr. Kelley explained everything to me step by step and made sure I knew how to treat minor pokes or pains in my teeth. They also provided me with toothbrushes and floss just for braces and taught me how to use them. The staff is really friendly and they're really good at accommodating me to where I don't miss anything big at school. Kelley Orthodontist has done a great job helping me with my braces! "

"I personally like it when I go to the orthodontist. When all the other kids at school say, 'I have to go to the orthodontist today,' the usual responses are, 'Hope you come back alive!' or 'That stinks!' But my response is, 'Who do you have?' The reason all the kids hate orthodontics is because they don't have Dr.Kelley! The staff is amazing, they don't put pointy things into your mouth, and they make the appointments quick and fast. Thank you Dr. Kelley for making a place that makes my mouth good as new!"

"We have been so grateful for Dr. Kelley's orthodontic care of our children. His kindness in dealing with our family, thorough medical expertise, and friendly office staff have made this office feel like a second family. Three of our children have been through orthodontics with Dr. Kelley, and not only are their smiles fabulous, but they even enjoy going to the office for visits. We have full confidence in Dr. Kelley's treatment of our children's individual orthodontic needs, and for one of our children in particular have seen significant progress that will likely keep him from surgery down the road. Because orthodontics requires frequent visits and check ups, we are all the more thankful for such a fantastic orthodontist and office staff to spend time with."

American Board of Orthodontics American Assoication of Orthodontists Invisalign Incognito