A Good Question is a series of posts inspired by common questions from patients and families.
Childhood and teenage years are busy ones for cleft care and repair. As those final care-and-repair list items are completed, older teens and young adults look to a future with few cleft team appointments on the calendar and for many patients, little or no care may be necessary for many years to come. However, the great majority of individuals with clefts will need specialized cleft care again at some point in their adulthood. Why consult with a professional specializing in adult cleft care?
New treatment options may exist that weren’t available previously. Many adults of all ages tell us that they are satisfied with both the appearance and function of their cleft repairs and wouldn’t change a thing; we love hearing this! Occasionally we do hear from adults who’ve always struggled with some part of the repair that’s never been quite right. Difficulty breathing, appearance of the lip or nose, and speech issues are a few of the broad categories of concerns for adults with clefts. If one of these challenges is yours, consider a consult with a cleft team or professional specializing in care of the adult patient. A new technique or other resource may make difference for you. Meet Gina Butchin, an adult who had her last surgery at age 40.
Complex dental care should include a consult with a cleft specialist. Your favorite family dental practice is a great source for routine cleanings, fluoride treatments and checkups. In some cases, if a prior consult with a cleft-specialist has given the green light, your family dentist may even manage routine treatment for cavities and application of sealants. But when it’s time to care for any number of more complex dental issues–loose or cracked teeth, extractions, dental implants, application of orthodontia or any other non-routine intervention–your first call should be to a team or professional specializing in adult cleft care.
Mid-life changes aren’t limited to your eyesight and waistline. Your last cleft care may have been 30 years ago. You may have had a great repair with no problems and for many years, hardly even thought about your cleft. But lately you’ve noticed something feels different. Perhaps a tooth doesn’t seem as stable as it should be or you’ve become aware of your breathing in a way that you hadn’t previously. Whatever it is, the change is very probably a normal part of how your cleft and its repair are growing and changing right along with the rest of you. As soon as you notice changes in your mouth or cleft, consult with a team or professional specializing in adult cleft care so that those changes can be managed in the most pro-active ways possible.
As an adult with a cleft, what are your experiences with ongoing cleft care?