Cleft Lip And Palate Specialist

Michael R. Nichols, DMD, MD -  - Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi

Michael R. Nichols, DMD, MD

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon & Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgeon located in Flowood, MS

Cleft lip and palate conditions occur in about one of every 800 babies. Children born with these conditions require prompt medical attention to assist with speech, hearing, feeding, and psychological development. At Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi, in Flowood, Mississippi, Michael Nichols, DMD, MD, and the team perform cleft lip and palate surgery. To schedule an appointment for your child, book online, or call the office to speak with a caring administrative staff member today.

Cleft Lip and Palate Q&A

What is a cleft lip and palate?

A cleft lip and palate are two of the most common congenital malformations. They cause visible openings in the roof of the mouth or upper lip and make it difficult for a child to nurse or speak. Usually, these conditions occur on their own, but in some cases, they point to inherited genetic conditions.

Thanks to modern surgical tools and treatment techniques, it’s possible to safely correct a cleft lip and palate. The team at Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi has extensive experience in this area and can safely restore your child’s craniofacial structure.

What are the symptoms of a cleft lip and palate?

Although cleft lip and palate are typically visible at birth, they affect every child differently. In some cases, there’s a split in the lip or roof of the mouth that only impacts one side of the face. Other times, there’s a split in the lip that runs through the upper gum to the bottom of the nose. 

Some children experience a submucous cleft palate. This causes a split in the muscles of the soft palate, that isn’t visible to the naked eye. Common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty feeding
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Nasal speaking voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Missing teeth

Following an in-office exam, the team at Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi can determine the treatment option that will best meet your child’s needs.

What factors increase my baby’s risk of a cleft lip and palate?

Any child can experience a cleft lip and palate, but several factors may increase their risk, including:

  • Having a family history of a cleft lip and palate
  • Exposure to substances like tobacco or alcohol during pregnancy
  • A diabetic mother
  • Being obese during pregnancy

Studies show that males are more likely to have a cleft lip, while females are more likely to have a cleft palate. 

How is a cleft lip and palate treated?

Treatment for a cleft lip and palate depends on the severity of your child’s condition. The team at Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi performs several craniofacial procedures on-site, including bone grafting, scar revision, and surgery to repair the cupid’s bow (the double curve at the top of the upper lip.)

Cleft lip treatment

The team performs cleft lip treatment when your child is about 10 weeks old. During this procedure, the team closes the separation, restores muscle function, and adjusts the mouth to a normal appearance. If your child has a nostril malformation, subsequent procedures may be necessary.

Cleft palate treatment

The team performs cleft palate treatment when your child is between seven and 18 months old. The goals of treatment are to close the gap between the roof of the mouth and the nose, reconnect the muscles to the palate, and extend the length of the palate so it can perform routine functions like biting, chewing, and speaking.

If your child requires hard palate surgery, the team recommends waiting until they’re between the ages of eight and 12, when their permanent teeth start coming in. 

To learn more about treatment for a cleft lip and palate, request a consultation at Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi. Book an appointment online, or call the office to speak with a caring staff member today.