NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach family is celebrating their son’s new smile thanks to a therapy now being offered at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters to repair cleft lip and palate.
Eleven-month-old Mateo was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate — a split on both sides of his lip and the roof of his mouth. His mom, Georgina Quillas, found out during an ultrasound when she was about four months pregnant.
“Sitting there at that office and listening to her talk, like everything went mute,” she told WAVY. “In my head I’m just like …. I don’t even know what I’m going to do.”
Quillas was referred by Naval Medical Center Portsmouth to the Cleft and Craniofacial Center at CHKD.
Plastic surgeon Dr. Yifan Guo and orthodontics specialist Dr. Pardeep Kaur teamed up to use NAM therapy at the hospital for the first time. NAM, short for nasoalveolar molding, requires the baby to wear an orthodontic plate, similar to a retainer for 12 to 16 weeks before surgery.
“Really early on in his life, probably three to four weeks old, we took him to OR and we took this mold in about two minutes,” Kaur said.
Just like a retainer moves teeth, Mateo’s mold moved his bones and helped reshape his gums, lip and nostrils.
Mom said it wasn’t easy at first, with the daily taping and rubber bands.
“That was crazy because he eventually learned how to knock it out of his mouth,” she said.
Over time, it got easier for the family and it allowed Dr. Guo to do in one surgery what usually takes two. That eliminated risk associated with anesthesia, infection and healing.
“Having multiple scars on the upper lip can lead to a worse outcome compared to having just one surgery,” Guo said.
Mateo will need one more surgery to fix the palate inside his mouth, and he could need a third surgery when his adult teeth start to come in around age seven, but NAM patients can sometimes skip that surgery too.
For now, Mateo is done with the orthodontics and the results have doctors, mom and, most of all Mateo, sporting some big beautiful smiles.