St. Luke's Team Approach
Each patient's treatment is personalized and your child's specific needs are discussed and care is coordinated among the team members following each visit. Treatment may include speech therapy, a speech aid for feeding or speech problems, orthodontic and dental work, reconstructive and reparative surgery, as well as ear, nose and throat care.
Our Team of Specialists:
- A speech pathologist will evaluate your child's articulation skills, voice quality and language skills.
- An audiologist will test your child's hearing and monitor for any changes. The type of hearing loss associated with children that have cleft palates is usually the result of middle ear fluid and is correctable.
- An otolaryngologist will assess the health of the ear, nose and throat. Children with cleft palates are at a higher risk of ear infection due to a malfunction of the Eustachian tubes (small passages leading from the middle ear to the throat).
- A plastic surgeon will review, recommend and perform reconstructive and reparative surgery if necessary. The surgeon who evaluates your child's cleft will perform the surgical closure of the cleft, as well as any related operations your child may require. The timing of the surgical procedures and the type of surgery will depend on your child's condition.
- Surgical closure of the lip usually occurs at approximately two to three months of age. Closure of the palate usually occurs at 12 months of age. The timing of the surgery also is dependent on the child's weight, nutrition and overall medical condition.
- Your pediatrician will assess the general health of the child and the family environment.
- Our dental specialists will monitor your child's dental growth and development. Our team of dental specialists includes a pedodontist (children's dentist), an orthodontist (bite alignment and teeth straightening) and a prosthodontist (dental appliances).
- An orthodontist helps guide normal facial development and tooth alignment.
- A prosthodontist constructs prosthetic appliances to assist in speech or feeding.
- A pediatric dentist monitors a child's dental development.
- An oral surgeon recommends and performs needed oral surgery to correct tooth and jaw alignment.
- Our occupational therapist reviews feeding techniques and provides families with practical help in feeding their infants. Infants with a cleft lip may have difficulty closing tightly around the nipple and creating adequate suction due to the cleft palate.
- Our nursing coordinator manages continuity of care and follow-up.
- A Genetic Counselor can help provide information on the causes of clefts and answer questions about recurrence in other family members.