You'll find hundreds of files on cleft lip, cleft palate here on widesmiles.org.
This one is about: Removing the Obturator/Eating
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A young child has been using an obturator. Now in preparation for surgery, the parents have asked for advice about removing the obturator and how to get the child accustomed to eating without it.
Some parents share their experiences with the obturator:
We also had to take Paul's obturator out about 2 weeks before surgery and he was not thrilled! He drank much quicker and ate better with it, but he also adapted once it was out. I had to go slower and at first he didn't like the feel of the food getting up in his cleft, but it went ok. It was not that much messier, except more came out from his nose than when he had the obturator in. He was 10 months old at the time. Maybe you could try taking it out here and there before the time you have to remove it permanently and see how he does with the solids. Just watch things like crackers or cookies that could get stuck in the cleft, since Paul wasn't used to that he gagged a lot. I think I made sure to offer the bottle a lot while feeding during the transition.
Then after palate repair it was great, he didn't need it and didn't miss it! No more obie!! No more Fix-o-Dent and forgetting it!! LOL Man that seems like it was so long ago for us (Paul is 2.5). Good luck with the surgery. Paul's palate repair was the easiest of his three. He was playing later on the same day in the play room!
I'm Jeff and have a daughter, Rebecca, with a UCLP. We, too, used an obturator but we didn't remove it prior to surgery. We figured that after surgery things would be so different inside her mouth that she wouldn't really miss it. So we quit on the day of surgery.
In a way, we were correct. She really didn't seem to miss it. Unfortunately, ten days after surgery, the palate reopened. This wasn't just a small fistula but a fairly dramatic reopening that ended with an emergency room visit.
You see, Rebecca liked to suck on her obturator like a pacifier. This behavior continued after surgery. My wife and I have since speculated (though we can't be sure) that this contributed to the palate reopening.
Please don't think I'm trying to scare or shock you. These surgeries are nerve racking enough without adding fuel to the fire! I'm just letting you know what our experience was with an obturator. Probably stopping earlier before surgery would have helped in our situation.
She has since had her palate redone (this last July - about a year since the first palate surgery) with resounding success - no openings whatsoever.
Good luck to both you and Max
My daughter Sarah (bclp) wore her obturator up until the day of surgery to repair her palate at 7 mos. and then no longer needed it. Up until then, even with the obturator she had real problems with solids coming but the nose, sneezing, etc so we basically kept her on formula until surgery. The repair has been excellent! She can eat or drink anything with no problems, sucks from a straw, can inflate a balloon, and blow a whistle. Good luck! Ellen
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