East Tennessee Children's Hospital: Cleft & Craniofacial Clinical Team

Since 1996, our very own Dr. Jim Pickering has been fortunate to serve as the orthodontist on Knoxville’s Cleft and Craniofacial Team. In that 24-year period, the team has moved from the UT Medical Center to their current location at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. While the advanced technology utilized in the clinic has continued to change, Dr. Pickering and the entire Cleft Team have always cared for their patients with compassion and love!

 

SO, what is a cleft lip/palate?

Each year approximately 4,200 babies in the United States are born with a cleft lip and/or a cleft palate. Oral clefts are the fourth most common birth defect in the U.S. and are more common in children of Latino, Asian or Native American origins. Clefts develop very early in a woman’s pregnancy and result when there is not enough tissue in a baby’s mouth and lip area to join properly. These clefts often cause unclear speech, feeding difficulties, limited hearing, and can result in issues with the teeth and jaws.

 

What’s a Cleft Team?

Knoxville’s very own East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Cleft and Craniofacial Team is one of the only approved cleft palate team in Tennessee. Our Knoxville Cleft Team currently treats more than 200 patients in our region with both efficiency and compassion. As you can imagine, cleft palate management is complicated, so the team must include multiple specialists. Some of these specialists include…

Audiologist, Otolaryngologist, ORTHODONTIST, Speech Pathologist, Nutritionist, Geneticist, Oral Surgeon

 

What is an orthodontist’s role on the Cleft Team?

Dr. Pickering serves the team at many different stages throughout a child’s development.  He can help with the feeding process when a child is first born. In addition, our team at Pickering & Allen Orthodontics helps prepare kiddos for their bone graft procedure around age 8. Once all the permanent teeth are present, braces are used to help better align the teeth & can even be used in assisting with jaw surgery in the very late teens, if needed.

As such, Dr. Pickering & our team develop a very special, significant bond with these sweet patients and amazing families.  Every child we see has their very own beauty and spirit. We would like to think we can help them find that and spread their joy as they go through their journey.  In the end, like ALL of our patients, we at Pickering & Allen Orthodontics are very fortunate for the opportunity to care for these sweet children as we would our very own families.

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