Cleft palate is a condition that occurs when the roof of the mouth fails to close during the early stages of pregnancy. At Knoxville Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, our compassionate team of oral surgeons can perform cleft palate surgery to correct abnormalities in the palate. Drs. Turner P. Emery, Michael D. Wooten, and Nicole C. Eisenberg have years of experience correcting cleft palates in Knoxville, TN. Dr. Emery, in particular, is a founding member of the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Cleft and Craniofacial Team, an organization that has treated more than 500 children.
The Importance of Correcting a Cleft Palate
Repairing a cleft palate is about more than just cosmetic concerns. The roof of our mouth serves a number of functions, ranging from speech to the development of the teeth, jaw, and face. Typically, repairs to the palate are recommended between nine to 18 months of age. By performing cleft palate surgery early, we can support normal growth, function, and speech development. In the hands of a skilled maxillofacial surgeon, a cleft palate surgery can make a massive difference on your child’s ability to eat, breathe, and speak.
Your Initial Consultation
We understand that the decision to move forward with surgery for your child can be stressful. During your initial consultation with Dr. Emery, Wooten, or Eisenberg, you can ask as many questions as necessary and voice any of your concerns. Based on your child’s health history, we can recommend a course of treatment tailored to your situation.
What to Expect
The goal of cleft palate surgery is to carefully reposition tissue and muscle to close the cleft and rebuild the roof of the mouth. The first step is to administer anesthesia so that your child remains comfortable throughout the procedure. Once your child is comfortable, the surgeon can use a specialized flap technique to alter the position of the hard and soft components of the palate while leaving enough room to allow for normal development and growth. All incisions are then closed up with sutures.
Caring for Your Child after Surgery
We can provide you with detailed instructions on how to care for your child both before and after their procedure. Typically, one to two days of observation by our medical team are required to monitor the recovery process, after which your child can return home. Once at home, you should try to prevent your child from touching the surgical site or putting objects in their mouth. If necessary, we can provide velcro arm restraints to help prevent thumb sucking and other behaviors.
For the first six weeks after surgery, your child should only eat soft foods or liquids, such as yogurt, noodles, and pureed meals. You should also avoid giving them pacifiers or sippy cups, which can affect the surgical site.
Compassionate, Qualified Surgeons
At Knoxville Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we understand how difficult it is for a parent to see their child undergo surgery. Our surgeon are dedicated to performing safe, effective cleft palate surgeries that restore normal function and allow your child to develop naturally. For more information about our oral surgery services, call us at (865) 584-6207 or contact our office online.