A cleft palate or lip is a congenital defect. When a baby grows in the womb, the different areas of the face develop individually and then join together. This includes the left and right side of the roof of the mouth and lips. If these sections fail to align, it results in a cleft.
Cleft lips and palates interfere with a normal facial appearance and can affect breathing and speech. Clefts occur in about one in every 800 births. Surgery repairs this defect.
A malocclusion occurs when misalignments of the teeth or the jaw result in an irregular bite. Crowded, crooked, or protruding teeth may be the result, as can headaches, gum problems, and sleep disorders. In some cases, Dr. Esla may only be able to correct malocclusions with surgical realignment of the jaw bones.
Benign and cancerous growths or tumors of the mouth may require removal by an oral surgeon like Dr. Esla. He can also help you with impacted teeth or cysts of the mouth that are causing pain, discomfort, swelling, and infection. Bacterial, fungal, and viral infections in the mouth also fall under the rubric of oral pathology.
A child with a cleft lip usually undergoes surgical repair around the age of 10. The surgery closes the separation, restores muscle function, and gives the face a normal appearance.
Cleft palates are treated at a younger age, usually between 7 and 18 months of age. The surgery closes the gap between the roof of the mouth and the nose, connects the muscles to make the palate work, and lengthens the palate for optimal function.
Dr. Esla and his staff give you specific instructions as to how to care for yourself following oral surgery. The exact recommendations depend on the extent of the surgery. Some surgeries require healing time, but children who undergo surgery to repair a cleft palate immediately have an easier time consuming food and liquids.
Not every oral surgery is successful the first time, particularly in the case of cleft palate repair. You may find additional surgeries necessary if you have a particularly complex condition.
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