CLEFT LIP AND PALATE: MAKING BABIES SMILE!

Written on Thursday August 24, 2017
CLEFT LIP AND PALATE: MAKING BABIES SMILE!

I know many of my patients and their families may have been in Smiles by Pocock’s office when a baby with a cleft palate shows up for an appointment. People often ask me: “What do we do with these babies?”

Smiles by Pocock is one of just a few orthodontists in the province who do this sort of work. Dr. Pocock has taken subspecialty training to do it.

TIMING IS CRITICAL

When a baby is born with a cleft lip and palate we can make some changes to the shape of their face and their nose in the first 3 months of the baby’s life that you can’t make at any other time. Consequently, that’s why we want to do this treatment very early, preferably between 1 and 2 weeks after birth.

IT’S A STEP BY STEP PROCESS

Basically we make a little device that fits in the child’s mouth and has a little attachment that goes up their nose. Dr. Pocock is able to reshape the front of the face and reshape the shape of the nose using these devices and various tapes.

We start by taking an impression of the baby's mouth with a little tray in the operating room at Children’s Hospital and then the rest of the work is done here at the office.

Tristan, Dr. Pocock’s son, makes the appliances and then, the staff and Dr. Pocock show the parents how to utilize the appliances and taping in order to get a much nicer result for their child. This is all done in the first 3 months of a baby’s life. At the 3 month mark the parents and the child go back to Children’s Hospital and the surgeon performs an operation initially on the lip. About 10 months later, they do a separate operation on the palate. The results that can be achieved by these procedures are really wonderful these days.

BEFORE AND AFTER CASE STUDY

Here is a “before and after” case from Dr. Pocock’s office. If you look at these before and after photos you will see a young boy with a cleft on one side. This cleft distorts the whole nose on one side.

You can also see the part of the jaw that holds the teeth is pushed right outside his mouth. Our treatment does its best to reposition the face before the child has surgery. After everything is healed, you can see the results are dramatic.

Now the child has a symmetrical nose and his mouth is also looking far more normal. There is very little scaring because our plastic surgeons are wonderful with what they do! Most people walking down the street past this little man wouldn’t know that he had a cleft. And that’s an amazing thing for both the boy and his family.

Keep smiling everyone!

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