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Cleft Palate

Is an obturator really needed for infant cleft palate?

By Cleft Palate

Last week my sister and I saw 2 different doctors about my infant nephew’s cleft palate. With each doctor we felt like my sister was being pressured to get an obturator for my nephew’s cleft palate. We didn’t know what to expect before the appointments, but the approach was really rushed. My sister is nervous about the whole thing and really wondering if the device is the right way to go or if there is something else that can be done. I am confused to and haven’t really been much help making a decision so any advice you have is welcomed. Thanks Lynnda.

Lynnda – Dr. LaVacca would really need to do an examination and diagnostic studies to determine the best treatment for any patient. But a cleft obturator is often, and appropriately, recommended when the opening in the palate is large enough to interfere with the feeding, growth, and development of a child.

The oral appliance helps infants with suction when feeding. This will ensure that a baby is getting the food and nutrients he or she needs. Good health and enough weight gain are important factors for a positive outcome in surgery to close the cleft.

It is easy for a prosthodontist to make a customized obturator. An impression of the mouth is made to make the appliance, and the prosthodontist will ensure a proper fit.

Although you have already spoken with two doctors, it may be helpful to schedule another appointment with a board-certified prosthodontist with expertise in making obturators. The opportunity to have the pros and cons explained, ask questions, and find out what to expect after it’s placed can address some of your sister’s concerns.


This post is sponsored by Naperville implant dentist and board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.


What are the risks of untreated cleft palate?

By Cleft Palate, Prosthodontist

There is a child with cleft palate that was adopted by family members, outside of my immediate family. For personal reasons and family sensitivities, I don’t want to give any details about the family dynamics. We don’t live in Illinois. I am doing this research on my own and will relate it to my family at the right time. I would like to know what happens if cleft palate goes untreated. Thanks. J.B.

J.B. –

During pregnancy when the left and right sides of the roof the mouth do not grow together and fuse, an opening or cleft remains. The cleft can affect part, or all, of the roof of the mouth.

There are several difficulties that can arise if a cleft palate is left untreated. Some of them are listed below.

  • Chronic dental problems, including misaligned or malformed teeth
  • Speech problems
  • Ear infections, due to fluid not draining properly from the ears
  • Impaired hearing
  • Speech problems
  • Fluids can enter the nasal cavity while drinking
  • Difficult social interactions – A person with cleft palate can be self-conscious about his or her physical appearance, which can cause him or her to limit social interaction.

Although circumstances vary with each family, we encourage at least a consultation with a board-certified prosthodontist for an examination of individuals with cleft palate. This is an obligation-free opportunity to get the opinion of a skilled specialist and to discuss treatment options.


This post is sponsored by Naperville board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

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