At What Age Should a Child Have Hard Palate Repair Done?

My daughter is 3 1/2 and has had her soft palate and 1st lip repair done during her first year. She is having issues with drinking due to a hole just behind her "front" teeth (she puts her thumb in her mouth to plug it while drinking) and chokes on food sometimes. I want to have her hard palate repaired so that she can function better with eating and drinking. One doctor has told me that the hard palate repair is around 8 years old. Any alternative advice on when to have the repair done?

Doctor Answers 3

Cleft repair

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There are many thoughts on this subjects. It is basically speech problems vs. lack of future bone growth (with early repair).
In my opinion, speech is more important and harder to fix than bone problems. The best time to repair a cleft palate is before the speech starts which is around 10 months. Most likely the upper jaw's growth will be slowed down by this procedure, but this is not a major concern and  routine osteotomy can fix the isssue. It sound like your child could benefit from a repair now.

New York Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 19 reviews


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If the hole is in her palate, and not the space between her teeth, these can be closed at anytime, preferably during the first year.  If it is the space between her teeth, your surgeon should start looking at x-rays of her upper jaw around 7-8 and plan to replace the bone and close the hole then.

See a board-certified plastic surgeon with training in craniofacial surgery for a consult and to help guide care of your child.

Hope this helps,
Dr. Hall


Jason J. Hall, MD, FACS
Knoxville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

At What Age Should a Child Have Hard Palate Repair Done?

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The answer very much depends on the size of the defect.  A small defect as you described can sometimes be repaired with a hard palate island vascularized flap which is very effective and could be performed at any time.  A bony defect that is large and broad requiring a bone graft is better if done later in life.  Other options would be an obturator (or plate) which are difficult to deal with in very small children.  I would recommend seeking out an expert opinion in your area who has expertise in both reconstructive plastic surgery and cleft lip/palate repairs.

Shepherd G. Pryor, MD
Scottsdale Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.