Cleft Overview


Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate

Welcome to our Cleft Family!  We are very fortunate to live in a day and age where the treatment for clefts is very advanced.  We look forward to working with you to take care of your little one and making sure that their cleft becomes a simple scar, and doesn’t define who they are.



Clefts occur in the first trimester of pregnancy.   The reason is usually unknown.  It occurs with a frequency of one out of 600-750 births. The probability is higher in families with members who have clefts but most kids born with clefts every year have no family history of cleft.  Each cleft is as unique in its appearance and severity and therefore each cleft  repair is unique.  Children can be born with an isolated cleft lip, an isolated cleft palate, or a mixture of both.

It is very important for parents to know that there is nothing you did to cause a cleft to develop and there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. Clefts just happen. Parents (especially mothers) need to know this.  Don’t give another thought to what ifs.  Focus all your energy on loving your new one and working with us to provide the best care and outcome.  If you have received a diagnosis before your child is born, make an appointment to come and speak to Dr. Griner who will explain what you need to know and put your mind at ease.

The team members at the Cleft & Craniofacial Institute of Utah have extensive passion and experience in treating patients with cleft lips and palates.  They treat each patient as a family memeber and are always looking out for their best interest.


Get Treatment for These Conditions:

Our Treatment Goals

Through a minimal series of surgeries, we can treat a cleft lip and cleft palate to restore your child’s ability to speak, eat, hear normally, and achieve a normal facial appearance.

At the Cleft & Craniofacial Institute of Utah, Dr. Griner treats any child born with a cleft as an individual with individual needs. Our entire team is experienced with cleft treatments, and we work hard to create some amazing results.

Our Expertise

Cleft Lip/Palate

 Cleft lips and palates are one of the most common birth anomalies that affect about 1/600 newborn babies in the United States and around 1/500 in the state of Utah.  Clefts can range from quite mild to fairly severe.  Most of the time they are an isolated anomaly, but are also associated with a number of gentic syndromes.  Depending on what structures are involved dictates the complexity of the treatment plan.   Our team works together with you to make a customized plan for  your baby.  Even the most severe of cases should be able to be treated with only a few surgical interventions by a well coordinated and efficient team.






The skull is made up of several different bones that are joined together by growth plates called "sutures."  Craniosynostosis is a condition where one or more of these sutures fuse prematurely causing an abnormal head shape, decreased cranial volume, and the possiblilty of raised intracranial pressure.  The treatment of craniosynostosis is surgical and the goals of surgery are to increase the volume of the skul and to correct the abnormal appearance of the head shape.  There are two methods of surgical correction: open vault reconstruction and strip craniectomy.  Dr. Griner's extensive training allows him to perform these complex procedures without the need for blood transfusions and spending only 1-2 nights in the hospital. 



There are many syndromes that can affect the shape of the head and face and include Aperts, Crouzon, Pfieffer, Treacher Collins, and many others.  Most of these syndromes include many other complex anomalies and need to be treated in a coordinated approach in order to reduce the number of operations the child will need.  These syndromes are rare and require specialists that are very familiar with the intricacies of each syndrome.  Dr. Griner's unique training provided him with extensive experience with craniofacial syndromes and makes him the premier choice to guide the management of your child's needs in Utah.





Ear Deformities

Ear deformities range from mild changes in shape to the complete abscence of an ear and deafness.  Mild deformities can be treated in the first few weeks of life while others will require reconstructive surgery and hearing aids.  No matter the severity, our specialists work together to provide normal appearance and improved hearing.


From the Blog

Parenting a Cleft Child: Selecting a Surgeon

You stare at that ultrasound, taking in the news that your baby has a cleft lip and/or palate. You’re referred to a specialist to confirm that diagnosis. You see the specialist, baby’s cleft is confirmed. You don’t know how to feel or what questions to ask. It all...

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Staged palate repairs

Staged palate repairs were implemented to try and reduce the chance of stunting the upper jaw growth and needing to have it surgically advanced later in life, while at the same time allowing normal speech to develop.  We know from several studies that the growth of...

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