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Oral Cleft Program
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Oral Cleft Program

Oral Cleft Program

The Oral Cleft Clinic at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is a leading provider of care for children with cleft lips and cleft palates. Cleft lip and palate are birth defects that affect every function of the face except vision. They vary in size and impact on lip, nose, gums, teeth and inside of the mouth, so clefts must be approached based on the individual needs of the child to achieve the best results.

Our program started providing customized solutions and innovative surgical techniques 30 years ago and remains at the core of what we do today because of our continued outstanding results. We’ve helped thousands of children look their best and speak clearly, and expect nothing less for your child.

Customized, Innovative Approach

What sets our oral cleft program apart from others starts with our customized approach to treatment, which includes the philosophy of doing as few surgeries as possible, but as many as are needed by each child to correct a cleft lip and palate. Next, we use advanced surgical techniques pioneered by our team in the initial and any follow-up surgeries. The techniques preserve facial function and allow for fewer and less aggressive surgeries than other pediatric plastic surgery programs.

Our innovative surgical approach impacts other areas of your child’s care and outcome:

  • Orthodontics: Our patients require less complex orthodontics throughout the process, which can be provided by your local orthodontist. Your son or daughter will not need to wear pre-surgical orthodontics in an attempt to reshape the palate often used by other programs. And he or she will only need another full round of complex orthodontics around 7 to 10 years of age.
  • Speech: Our techniques have improved speech outcomes, so we can help your son or daughter achieve perfect, not just understandable speech.
  • Jaw surgery: A significantly smaller amount of our patients compared to others around the world need jaw surgery as teenagers to fix the resultant cross bite issues caused by earlier surgery.  

Multidisciplinary Team Approach

Our oral cleft team is led by Dr. Robert Mann, an internationally-renown expert, and features three board-certified plastic surgeons with more than 50 years of combined experience in cleft lip and palate as well as craniofacial reconstruction. Our surgical expertise is supported through a team of specialists that help with all areas, including issues related to breathing, feeding, hearing, oral care and speech.

Our multidisciplinary team that collaborates to ensure the best results for your child includes:  

Assessment in the Hospital (After Birth)

The assessment team includes a registered nurse, a clinical social worker and a speech therapist. We will educate and support your family during this potentially emotional time. Within 48 hours of your baby’s birth, we will meet and work closely with a plastic surgeon to assess your baby’s condition and share information with you. Most children with clefts can undergo their first sur­gery within 12 months of being born.

Preparing for Your Child’s Visit to the Oral Cleft Clinic

A typical visit lasts two hours and includes:

  • A brief meeting with each specialist
  • Recommendations from each specialist
  • Referrals to support services and other health care professionals as needed

 A letter detailing your child’s personalized plan of care will be sent to you and your family doctor.

Contact Us

Oral Cleft Clinic
Helen DeVos Children’s Outpatient Center
330 Barclay Street NE, Suite 203
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: 616.391.2320
Fax: 616.391.2131

Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.