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Rady Children's Specialists

Cleft Maxillary Hypoplasia

Cleft maxillary hypoplasia is an undergrowth of the maxilla, or upper jaw, that occasionally occurs in children with cleft lip and palate. It is more common when the cleft is bilateral.

As the child’s face grows, the upper jaw is unable to keep up with normal growth of the lower jaw, and the upper teeth become abnormally positioned behind the lower jaw teeth. Using principles of orthognathic surgery, the maxilla can be predictably brought forward, not only normalizing the relationship of the jaws, but also normalizing the relationships of the lips to each other and to the nose.

Surgery to correct cleft maxillary hypoplasia is normally performed in the teen years after jaw growth is completed. When severe, the deformity is treated earlier to avoid psychosocial harm. The craniofacial surgeons, working together with oral surgeons, have extensive experience with the newer techniques of distraction which are occasionally indicated in the correction of cleft maxillary hypoplasia.

Prior to surgical reposition of the upper jaw, it is important that the teeth be prepared for proper alignment and occlusion. Planning and treatment by an orthodontist is required before and after orthognathic surgery of the maxilla.