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Jaw Surgery

Who Benefits

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:

Eating 
The teeth fit properly. The front teeth can cut into foods and the back teeth can chew

Drinking 
Improved ability to bring the lips together. 

Speech 
Improve speech: sounds that need the tip of the tongue, front teeth and lips 

Breathing 
Moving the upper jaw forward will increase the airway space.

Appearance 
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.