Craniofacial Information

Craniofacial InformationCraniofacial abnormalities are birth defects of the face or head, also referred to as “orofacial” (oral and facial) birth defects. The most common type of craniofacial defect is a cleft lip and palate.

At Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics, we hope to give parents with children suffering from birth defects an insight into what development will look like from birth to adolescence, especially relating to his or her oral health. Depending on your child’s defect, treatment or surgery may be an excellent option to alleviate any oral issues that develop. Our orthodontists and oral surgeons will be happy to discuss all orthodontic treatment and surgery options with you at our Chicago or Vernon Hills office. To learn more about craniofacial defects, continue reading below!

Cleft Lip And Palate

A cleft lip and palate is a separation of segments in the lip or roof of the mouth. These segments are usually joined together during the initial weeks of development in an unborn child. However, due to the birth defect, these children are born with the separation. A cleft lip is the separation of two sides of the lip. Depending on the severity, a separation may also be present in the upper gum and maxilla bone, or upper jaw. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth. This occurs because both sides of the palate do not fuse together while the unborn child develops. In some cases, both a cleft lip and cleft palate may be present.

Treatment And Orofacial Surgery

Craniofacial defects like cleft lip and palate can be treated with orofacial surgeries performed by a trained oral surgeon. A cleft lip usually requires one or two surgeries beginning when the child is three months old, this may vary from patient to patient. Repairing a cleft palate normally requires multiple orofacial surgeries over several years. These surgeries may include:

  • Creating a functional palate for the development of teeth and facial bones
  • A possible bone graft to fill in gaps in the upper jaw
  • Specific surgeries to improve and correct speech

Once permanent teeth grow in, braces will be needed to straighten the teeth.


We, as orthodontists and oral surgeons, as well as our patients born with cleft lip and palate, must have realistic expectations. All patients can only be treated to the maximum of their potential. Unfortunately, a birth defect on an existing genetic pattern may compromise that potential. From birth to early adulthood, and sometimes later, the habilitation of a cleft lip and palate can require a multitude of procedures, and a financial and time commitment from the family of the affected child. Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics wants to set clear expectations for all patients and their families, while providing the highest level of information and the most effective treatments and surgeries possible.

Our Experience

Our office has been the orthodontic consultant for the Craniofacial Habilitation Team at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago for almost 40 years. We have lectured and published extensively on the treatment of cleft lip and palate patients. We have seen varying degrees of defects and have treated all of these variations.

Our dental training is mostly based on an understanding of what is normal and ideal. If experience teaches us anything, it’s that perfection is extremely difficult to attain when dealing with the imperfect human being. Perfection, however, is exactly what we will aim for as we try to reach your ideal facial and oral goals.

Consult Our Orthodontists Today

At Jacobson & Tsou, we believe that all orofacial defects can be treated. We will be happy to discuss all your options with you and answer any questions you may have about procedures. Please call or stop by our Chicago or Vernon Hills office to set up your first consultation today! A beautiful developed smile is available for your child and together we can achieve it!