Velopharyngeal insufficiency occurs when the soft palate—commonly known as the roof of the mouth—does not properly connect with the back of the throat while speaking or swallowing. This structural problem allows air to escape through the nose while speaking, causing nasal speech and problems with speech articulation.
Our doctors offer nonsurgical and surgical approaches to managing velopharyngeal insufficiency and consider the unique needs of your child when creating a care plan.
Some children may benefit from a speech appliance, which is like a dental retainer. A special attachment in the back of the appliance prevents air from escaping through the nose; this helps speech sound less nasal. Our speech–language pathologists assess how well it is working. This may be an option if you prefer that your child avoid or delay surgery.
Surgical options to address velopharyngeal insufficiency include:
furlow palatoplasty, a procedure that lengthens the palate by moving muscles in the roof of the mouth to a more normal position
sphincter pharyngoplasty, which moves tissue from the sides of the throat to create a mound of tissue at its back that the soft palate can meet while speaking
pharyngeal flap surgery, which creates a bridge between the soft palate and the back of the throat
Our doctors and speech–language pathologists provide follow-up care after these procedures to ensure your child is healing properly and that speech has improved.