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Cleft lip and cleft palate are relatively common congenital abnormalities experienced by about one in seven hundred newborns annually. These “orofacial clefts” result from the lip and/or the palate (roof of the mouth) not forming completely during early pregnancy. With proper surgical treatment from the Northwest team, we expect your child to live a healthy and happy life.

What Are Orofacial Clefts?

Cleft Lip

Between the fourth and seventh week of pregnancy, the lip forms. If the tissue does not join correctly, the baby will experience an opening in the upper lip of varying sizes.

Cleft Palate

Between the sixth and ninth week of pregnancy the roof of the mouth is formed. If the tissue does not join correctly, part of the palate is left open.

Why Surgery Is Necessary

Cleft lip and cleft palate abnormalities lead to some of the following health struggles for children:


The presence of a cleft palate makes it difficult for a baby to breastfeed or bottle feed because they cannot form a seal.


Cleft lip and cleft palate issues can lead to a variety of tooth development and facial structure complications.


Left untreated, a cleft palate will cause speech challenges.


Fluid buildup in the middle ear, increasing the possibility of infection, is not uncommon among children with a cleft palate.

Surgical Treatment for Cleft Lip

Cleft lip surgery typically occurs when the child reaches three months. The Northwest surgical team works to close the separation, ensure muscle function, and restore a normal shape to the mouth.

3 months old

Surgical Treatment for Cleft Palate

The initial cleft palate surgery is typically performed when the child is between six and twelve months. Our surgical team’s goal is to close the gap, reconnect the muscles, and ensure the palate can function correctly. This surgery reduces the chance of fluid building in the middle ears and lays the foundation for proper development of teeth and facial structures. Subsequent surgeries will be needed as the child grows.

6-12 months old

The Northwest Surgical Advantage

As certified oral and maxillofacial surgeons, the Northwest team brings decades of experience and expertise to the treatment of orofacial clefts. In cooperation with a team of healthcare specialists, we focus on repairing the abnormalities, restoring jaw and facial structures, and creating normal function. In the end, we want to help your child experience a beautifully healthy smile.

We Can't Wait to See You.

We look forward to hearing from you. Call today or complete the appointment request form, and we’ll be in touch soon!