Stony Brook Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Center

Helping Children to Smile Is Our Mission
The Stony Brook Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Center provides specialized multidisciplinary care for children of all ages born with cleft lip/palate and other defects affecting the head (cranium) and/or face. Our patients are cared for at Stony Brook Children's Hospital, which offers the most advanced pediatric specialty care in our region.  The only of its kind in Suffolk County, our team approach to care and repair provides each patient with a comprehensive surgical plan tailored to their specific needs for every step of their developmental journey. Hands on care multidisciplinary care, right here on Long Island.  

For more information about the Stony Brook Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Center, please call 631-444-8167.

* Click here for a list of all team members with their contact information. 

The birth of a child with a craniofacial abnormality can be a difficult time for family, friends, and relatives. Helping the family cope and plan for the future is the goal of the cleft lip/palate and craniofacial team at Stony Brook Medicine. Organized in 1984, the team has been a resource for care and support to the families of several hundred children from Suffolk and Nassau counties. One child in approximately 700 is born with a facial cleft. Although most children come to us as newborns, we provide care for children of all ages born with cleft lip/palate and other craniofacial defects. These children and their families are best cared for by a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals to assure that the physical and emotional needs of the child and family are met.

The American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association recommends that each child be followed by a cleft palate team. The team approach is ideally suited for the special needs of children born with cleft lip/palate and other craniofacial abnormalities. Team visits are arranged so that our specialists can evaluate each child in an open, friendly environment and respond to the questions and concerns of each family. After the visit, the team coordinator works with the family to assure that the care plan is completed. Working as a team with the child's parents and pediatrician, the cleft lip/palate craniofacial team integrates care with the emotional and educational needs of the child and family as needed to assure a non-traumatic repair of the anomaly as well as normal growth and development.

Learn more about cleft palate from our experts, and what distinguishes the Stony Brook Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Center at Stony Brook. Our multidisciplinary team specialist areas include:

  • Audiology
  • Dentistry
  • Feeding and lactation
  • Genetic counseling
  • Health department
  • Neurosurgery
  • Nursing
  • Oral and maxillo-facial surgery
  • Orthodontics
  • Otolaryngology (ENT)
  • Parent support
  • Pediatric dentistry
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Psychology (clinical)
  • Social work
  • Speech Pathology

Audiologist- Jamie Cluna, AuD

Department of Health- Robert Ackerman, SW

Feeding/Lactation Consultant

Geneticist/Genetic CounselorPatricia Galvin-Parton, MD

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon- Michael Proothi, MD

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons- Salvatore Ruggiero, MD, DMD

OrthodontistRichard Faber, DDS

OrthodontistMark L. Cherches, DDS

OrthodontistZachary Faber, DDS

OrthodontistLeon S. Klempner, DDS

Otolaryngologist (ENT)Sidrah Ahmad, MD

Pediatric DentistCharles Larsen, DMD, MS

Plastic Surgeon- Alexander B. Dagum, MD, Director

Plastic Surgeon- Christopher S. Bellber, MD

Psychologist- Thomas Preston, PhD, ABPP/CN

Social Worker- Geoffrey T. O'Connell, LCSW/R

Support Group for Parents- Sherree O’Shea (e-mail)

Team CoordinatorDanielle Silva (e-mail)


Facebook Support Page-

To learn more about the role of each of our specialist, click here


A cleft is a separation in the skin, mucosa, muscle, and bone that is normally fused together. However, no structures are missing. Clefts can be unilateral (one side) or bilateral (both sides) and may include the lip, soft palate, and hard palate, or a combination of lip and palate. This occurs during the first trimester when the area does not fuse. Although there is no known cause, the increase of folic acid prior to pregnancy is known to help decrease birth defects.


  • Cleft lip is a separation in the lip and may include the base of the nose.
  • Cleft palate is a separation in the hard and/or soft palate.
  • Submucous cleft is a separation in the muscle of the soft palate with the mucosa intact, which may not be easily visual


Normal Lipnormal


 Unilateral Incomplete Cleft LipUnilateral Complete


Unilateral Complete Cleft LipUnilateral Incomplete Cleft Lip


 Bilateral Incomplete Cleft LipBilateral Incomplete

complete normal

Normal Palate

Submucous Cleft with Bifid Uvula

Cleft Palate

Submucous Cleft with Bifid Uvula

Submucous Cleft with Bifid Uvula

cleft palate

Complete Unilateral Cleft Lip and Palate

All drawings by Raymond Pahk, medical student, Stony Brook University © 2005.

Craniofacial surgery is a form of surgery used to correct acquired or congenital deformities of the face, head, jaws, and skull.  Craniofacial reconstruction is a series of procedures used to repair or reshape the face, head, jaws, or skull due to birth defects or traumatic injury.  These complex areas affect how your children can breathe, chew, how they hear, swallow and even how they see.  The right care at the right time can improve your child's outcome, development and overall quality of life.  

  • Congenital Ear Deformities/Microtia
  • Cleft Lip
    • Unilateral Cleft Lip/Palate
    • Bilateral Cleft Lip/Palate
  • Cleft Palate
  • Craniofacial Syndromes
    • Apert
    • Crouzon
    • Microtia
    • Pfeiffer
    • Treacher Collins


Cleft Palate Foundation

Children's Craniofacial Association

Wide Smiles


Cleft Palate Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to optimizing the quality of life for individuals affected by facial birth defects. It was founded by the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association in 1973 to be the public service arm of the professional association. CPF produces informational packets and operates the CLEFTLINE — 800-24-CLEFT (800-242-5338) — a toll-free phone service that provides information to callers about clefts and other craniofacial anomalies. Mailing address: ACPA/CPF National Office / 1504 East Franklin Street, Suite 102 / Chapel Hill, NC 27514; phone, 919-933-9044; fax, 919-933-9604; e-mail,

Children's Craniofacial Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for facially disfigured individuals and their families. Nationally and internationally, CCA addresses the medical, financial, psychosocial, emotional, and educational concerns relating to craniofacial conditions. CCA advocates on behalf of and promotes awareness for the facially disfigured. Its website contains information on craniofacial disorders in children as well as educational materials and doctor referrals. Mailing address, Children's Craniofacial Association / 13140 Coit Road, Suite 307 / Dallas, TX 75240; phone (toll-free), 800-535-3643; e-mail,

Wide Smiles provides support, inspiration, information, and networking for families everywhere who may be dealing with the challenges associated with clefting. In addition to its web resources, it has a quarterly publication called Wide Smiles that is written by parents, for parents of children born with cleft. This magazine offers “useful, practical, inspirational articles that speak to a lay audience of intelligent parents.” It discusses topics that touch these children at every developmental level. Mailing address, Wide Smiles / PO Box 5153 / Stockton, CA 95205; phone, 209-942-2812; fax, 209-464-1497.  See information on how to get Wide Smiles.

Make a charitable gift to the Cleft Palate/Craniofacial School of Dental Medicine Fund for children who need our help most. 

Fellow Medical Professionals, join us for our FREE annual Cleft Palate Symposium to learn more about the team approach to patient care