Cleft Lip and Palate Team

The Cleft Lip and Palate Team is an interdisciplinary team that serves the state of West Virginia as well as surrounding areas where care for this patient population does not exist.

Benefits of the Team Approach

The multidisciplinary team allows children to benefit from the consolidated knowledge of many specialists from different fields in one place and in one visit.

Cleft lip and palate is correctable. Surgery and proper care normally result in improved appearance and healthier, happier lives for children. Equally as important is ongoing care for related problems that may affect communication skills and self-image. A number of specialists for speech, hearing, and dental problems, as well as social and emotional concerns, are essential for close monitoring throughout childhood. Close communication with the primary pediatrician or family doctor is essential.

The purpose of this team approach is to coordinate the best medical care for our patients and to ensure that their families are involved as an active partner in the treatment process.

This program includes:

  • Neonatology
  • Otolaryngology
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Dentistry
  • Orthodontics
  • Speech Language Pathology
  • Developmental Pediatrics
  • Audiology
  • General Pediatrics
  • Genetics
  • Social Work

Overview of Treatment Plan for Children with Cleft Lip/Palate


0-2 years: Patients with cleft lip usually have repair after nasoalveolar molding is complete between three and six months of age. Those with a palate cleft usually have repair prior to onset of speech between 9 and 18 months of age. Secondary surgery for refinement can be done at any time to improve the appearance of the child.

3-4 years: A few patients may need minor surgery to improve the alignment of the lip lines. The shape of the nose can also be improved.

4-6 years: Any child having speech problems in spite of palate repair and speech therapy may need a second surgery to improve the speech and reduce the nasality.

6-9 years: All cases involving clefts through the alveolar ridge of the maxilla require surgical placement of cancellous (spongy) bone. This bone is usually harvested from the hip.

14-16 years: Many children born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate or other craniofacial anomalies are either born with significant imbalance of their jaw alignment or jaw alignment imbalance occurs during their maturation due to poor growth of upper jaw. Normal jaw relationship is essential for good appearance, normal chewing process, and speech. Any misalignment of jaws will need orthodontic treatment followed by surgeries on both the jaws (orthognathic surgery). This often requires long pre-operative orthodontic treatment and removal of certain teeth. The orthodontic treatment may continue following surgery, and a prosthodontist may help to replace missing teeth.

16-20 years: Depending on the desire of the patient, final rhinoplasty (nose surgery) to improve the shape of nose can be done.

Check out educational materials from the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association: