Project Description

When Sawyer was first born we were told the cleft team we chose treats a cleft gum line with a “Latham” device.  I had NO idea what that was and tried to find a few things on the internet which was a bad idea.  I want to share our experience with this device, and BUST few rumors.  The latham is an extra surgery which is no fun for any parent, but it only take 20 to 30 minutes to “install”.  It is held in place with surgical pins.  The first day the child is a little cranky, but over the counter pain meds like Tylenol or Ibuprofen treat the pain with ease.  No “big heavy drugs” are needed for most kids.  It was amazing to me how fast my little boy got used to this device and I saw movement the very first day- it was incredible.  To me, that is the highest point of the latham- you see movement so quickly.  Every day you will turn the screw 1/4, 1/2, 1, or 2 full turns for about 6-8 weeks (or until the cleft closes).  I did it when Sawyer slept and then he got used to it and didn’t mind it being turned when he was awake- I did have to keep an eye on it though because sometimes it liked to turn back.  The screw is to bring the cleft jaw forward.  Then, the orthodontist will start tightening the chain at weekly visits which closes the cleft within 3mm.  A BIG “con” I read online about the latham was it causes severe under bites.  NOPE!  Having a cleft is actually the cause.  The premaxilla grows slower than the bottom jaw in a cleft child causing an under bite- not any device.  The only cons we had with the latham, and I need to say this is probably less than 1% of all Latham patients, but Sawyers slipped off of his gum line and had to be put in again with screws.  Oddly enough, he never needed any meds after the second surgery- he did wonderful.  If your Cleft Team wants to use the latham- go for it!  Be happy that your child gets to be one of many to use this amazing life changing device.  Sawyer’s cleft was 17mm wide, and on surgery day closed down to 3mm.  It’s a little bit of a pain, gets super icky, you’ll pull stuff off of it that you never knew your child could produce, but it yields AMAZING results for an easy lip repair.  I highly recommend it.  With all of our complications with it, which again- are uncommon, I would do it again without hesitation.
-Jessica Norman

Project Details

  • Date March 10, 2014
  • Tags Sawyer
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