The way our facial bones develop can impact many basic functions such as eating and speaking.

The facial skeleton is constructed from a myriad of bones that not only serve to protect one of our most vital organs, our brain, but shape our appearance and provide us the ability to eat, breathe, speak, and smell amongst many other functions.

The primary facial bones are complex, yet delicate, and are composed of the mandible, maxilla, nasal bones, frontal bone, and zygoma.

But, what happens when the bones of the face don’t develop properly? When abnormal face or skull growth occurs, affecting the surrounding tissue and bone, a craniofacial disorder or anomaly presents, which can be a result of a birth defect, trauma, or disease.

At the Alaska Center For Oral + Facial Surgery, we specialize in craniofacial anomalies such as cleft lip and cleft palate. In today’s post, we’re going to examine these skeletal growth concerns and review specific disorders.

Craniofacial Anomalies (CFAs)

Hearing the words, craniofacial anomalies, can be alarming to any parent or caregiver, but these disorders are rather common with cleft lip having a prevalence in 1 in 940 newborns. Other CFAs can be quite rare, as seen in Crouzon syndrome. Those with a CFA often have other CFA-associated syndromes or concerns including malocclusion (misaligned teeth), hypodontia (absence of one or more teeth), and airway obstruction.


How do facial skeletal defects impact the person?

When a person is born with a CFA it can greatly impact their quality of life such:

Difficulty Eating

(regurgitation and aspiration)

Hearing Loss

Chronic Ear Infections

Speech Impediments

Dental-related Issues

Social and Emotional Concerns


Craniofacial and Maxillofacial Surgery For CFAs

Both craniofacial and maxillofacial surgeries address concerns of the face, jaw, palate, and skull and can help with a wide variety of congenital disorders and related issues by correcting deformities of the skull, reconstructing damaged or missing bone, correcting the palate, and rebuilding facial features.

This type of oral surgery delivers vital functionality to a person’s life with an improved function to the face, jaw, and skull, while addressing and positively impacting their aesthetics.

Craniofacial Anomalies

There are a host of craniofacial anomalies that impact kids from birth. Below we’ll examine what some of them are and how craniofacial surgery is needed as an intervention.

Apert Syndrome

Apert syndrome is characterized by an abnormal growth of the skull and face as a result of an early fusion in specific sutures in the skull. Those with Apert syndrome often have misaligned teeth, an underdeveloped upper jaw, and cleft palate.

Cleft Lip and/or Palate

We’ve written on cleft lip and/or palate, and you can read those articles below.

As a brief overview, cleft lip and/or palate is characterized by a separation of parts of the lip or roof of the mouth, which are typically joined together in the early development in the womb.

Cleft Lip

A separation in the lip that involves bones of the upper jaw and.or upper gum.

Cleft Palate

An opening at the top of the mouth that varies from patient to patient and results when two sides of the palate do not fuse in development in the womb.

Maxilofacial is performed to bring both function and aesthetics to kids!

Frontonasal Dysplasia

The common feature of frontonasal dysplasia is the nose has a flat, wide appearance, and in some instances, the tip of the nose may be absent. Surgery can be performed to correct facial abnormalities, including nose reconstruction and correcting distance between the eyes.

Hallermann-Streiff Syndrome

Hallermann-Steriff syndrome is a congenital condition presenting with abnormalities in facial bones and the skull. When individuals have dental and facial anomalies, a variety of oral surgery options are available from surgical reconstruction of craniofacial malformations seen typically in nasal and mandibular areas to simple extractions.

Hemifacial Microsomia (HFM)

HFM, also known as Goldenhar syndrome, is an abnormality in which one side of the face is underdeveloped that can affect cheek tissue, skull formation, upper and lower jaws, teeth, and facial nerves.

Craniofacial surgery can help reconstruct the undeveloped side in addition to improving the quality of life for those with HFM.

Pierre Robin Sequence

Pierre Robin Sequence is a condition of the lower jaw where its growth is particularly small. As a result, the individual may have issues with their tongue falling backward, and cleft left and/or palate may be present in conjunction with this condition.

Treatment with Pierre Robin Sequence will typically happen in stages to address the craniofacial issues ranging from orthodontics to maxillofacial surgery.

When the bones in our face develop properly, we can breathe, speak, and chew without even having to think about it, but when they don’t, it can drastically impact everyday activities.

As we’ve examined, there are a wide range of craniofacial anomalies that can occur. With modern maxillofacial surgery and innovative, muti-disciplinary approaches, individuals with CFAs have a great chance to improve both the function and aesthetics, greatly improving their quality of life.

Craniofacial and Maxillofacial Surgery AT AOFS

At the Alaska Center For Oral + Facial Surgery, we’re the leader in innovative and patient-focused craniofacial and maxillofacial surgery with high patient success rates. If you or your child lives with a craniofacial abnormality, connect with us to schedule a consultation!

Let’s find a solution for CFAs today!