A cleft palate is a congenital disability that occurs when the roof of the mouth (palate) does not form properly. This can cause problems with eating, speaking, and hearing. Oral surgery can repair a cleft palate and improve the function and appearance of the mouth.

Several techniques can be used to repair a cleft palate, and the best one for a particular patient will depend on the size and location of the cleft, as well as the patient’s overall health. Some of the most common techniques include:


This procedure involves closing the cleft in the palate using a combination of skin grafts and surgical sutures. The skin grafts may be taken from another part of the patient’s body, or a cadaver may donate them. The surgical suture holds the skin grafts in place and creates a smooth, continuous surface in the palate.


This procedure is used to repair the soft tissue of the palate, including the uvula (the hanging structure in the back of the throat) and the muscles that control the movement of the palate. This can help to improve speech and swallowing function.

Orthognathic surgery

This type of surgery is used to correct the alignment of the jaw and teeth in patients with a cleft palate. This can help to improve the function and appearance of the mouth.

Distraction osteogenesis

This technique involves using a device to gradually stretch and lengthen the jawbone to create more space for the teeth to come into proper alignment. This can be an effective option for patients with a severe cleft palate who may not be candidates for traditional orthognathic surgery.

Specialists typically perform cleft palate repair surgery, including a plastic surgeon, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, and a speech pathologist. The surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia and may take several hours to complete.

After surgery, the patient will need to follow a special diet and may need to use special speech therapy techniques to help improve their speech and swallowing function. It may take several months or even years for the patient to fully recover from the surgery and achieve optimal mouth function and appearance.