Nearly more than 50% of the children who are born with a cleft lip and palate will benefit from jaw surgery. In more than 40 years of doing this surgery we have found many patients will benefit for the following reasons:
The teeth fit properly. The front teeth can cut into foods and the back teeth can chew
Improved ability to bring the lips together.
Improve speech: sounds that need the tip of the tongue, front teeth and lips
Moving the upper jaw forward will increase the airway space.
Better support for the lip and nose. Better profile and frontal appearance and smile.
Time of Jaw Surgery
Jaw surgery is ideally done after growth is completed. While typically the upper jaw stops growing early, it is the continued growth of the lower jaw that can be an issue and need for re-operation if it is done too early.
For most girls this is typically age 16. However, boys will continue to grow well after 17 years of age. We can get an idea when the facial skeleton is no longer growing by comparing the bone x-rays at two different times (6 months to a year apart). Other special x-ray such as a hand wrist can help determine when growth is completed.