Thanks to major strides in the treatment of cleft palate, every child can have a precious first smile

Cleft palate is a treatable birth condition in which the roof of the baby's mouth, or palate, does not normally develop. It may affect one or both sides and can extend the full length of the child's palate. A cleft lip can range from a small notch to a complete split in the lip that goes all the way to the base of the nose. A child can have one or both of these conditions at birth.

The Rocky Mountain Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Center at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children is nationally recognized as an American Cleft Palate – Craniofacial Association Approved Team.

For more information, or to schedule a consultation with our multidisciplinary team, please call (720) 754-3508.

Our story

More than 25 years ago, Dr. R.C.A. Weatherley-White, a cleft palate and craniofacial surgeon, introduced The Rocky Mountain Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Center for patients in the Rocky Mountain region. His dedication to sensitivity and comprehensive care for every patient and family still guides the program today.

Today, our team is made up of experts representing more than 13 specialties. Together, they offer a welcoming and patient-focused environment. The team is committed to consistent follow-up and clear communication with families and referring physicians.

Our multi-disciplinary team provides care from infancy to adulthood for patients who travel from across a multi-state region. Our location at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver gives patients easy access to care coordination with more than 300 board-certified pediatric physicians for associated syndromes and conditions.Compassion, respect and communication. These are essential for guiding young patients and their families through the diagnostic and treatment process.

Our approach to Cleft Lip and Palate Treatment

Whether diagnosis occurs in utero or at birth, our team approach assures excellent quality of care and alleviates stresses faced by families seeking medical attention for their child.

Our center brings a team of experts together who specialize in cleft palate and craniofacial assessment and treatment. We do this so that you can see the physicians you need in one convenient location.

Our clinic is run with our patients in mind. During clinic sessions, our teams introduce fun activities and social opportunities for patients and families alike.

Many families who travel to our clinic from around the Rocky Mountain region, choose the convenience of staying at the nearby Ronald McDonald House – Denver, a free resource for patient families.

We have a separate clinic date and time to accommodate adults who would like a consultation or ongoing treatment for cleft palate-related conditions.

Cleft palate treatment

Treatment for cleft lips and cleft palates has improved greatly in recent years, as has the treatment approach. Most children now can achieve a normal appearance with regular speech and eating abilities.

The Rocky Mountain Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Center brings together a broad array of medical professionals who work together to achieve that goal.

Our Multidisciplinary Team Includes:

  • Audiologists
  • Case managers
  • Genetic counselors
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeons
  • Orthodontists
  • Otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat)
  • Patient nurse navigators
  • Pediatric dentistry
  • Pediatricians
  • Plastic surgeons
  • Psychologists
  • Restorative dentistry
  • Speech pathologists

Many of these consultants also donate time to international organizations that help children with cleft lips and cleft palates.

Our specialists examine the patient, share information and together, design a comprehensive treatment plan. This not only assures quality of care, but also provides coordinated, ongoing treatment and reevaluation, as appropriate.

Comprehensive treatment plans are created in collaboration with clinic providers, following a day-long, multidisciplinary evaluation at our clinic.

Following the evaluation, you and all professionals associated with your child’s care receive a detailed report outlining findings and recommendations.

The care plan and report includes coordinated, ongoing treatment and reevaluation as appropriate.

We offer a wide array of surgical treatment options depending on your child’s unique care.

Patients opting for treatment at the Center are followed throughout the reconstructive process. The child's surgeon and the Center's team develop a long-term plan that is achieved gradually and carefully, through surgeries that are coordinated with all aspects of a patient's treatment throughout the years.

Ear tubes may be necessary if a child's hearing is impaired. The muscles that control pressure in the ears are connected to the palate, so children with cleft palates often need ear tubes that can be placed to help control that pressure since the muscles can't respond as they would normally. Placing these ear tubes helps maximize hearing abilities, so it's not a disability for the child later in life.

Ongoing care

Your child’s medical and psychosocial progress is carefully followed by our expert teams throughout the treatment process. This continuity assures strong patient-physician relationships, optimal surgical results and helps you navigate medical care for your child.

Your child’s surgeon and center team will develop a long-term plan that is achieved based on your child’s goals and milestones. Any needed surgeries will be coordinated with your child’s treatment and progress through the years.