Cleft Lip and Cleft Palates Explained

Nearly 7,000 babies in the U.S. are born with oral-facial clefts each year.1 Cleft lip and cleft palate occur during pregnancy when the sides of the lip and roof of the mouth don’t fuse together properly.

Cleft palate vs. Cleft lip
Cleft palate is what happens when the roof of the mouth doesn’t close all of the way, leaving an opening that can extend into the nasal cavity. Cleft lip is when the lip doesn’t completely form during development. Some children are born with both cleft lip and cleft palate.

Complications
A baby with cleft palate may have trouble feeding – the deformity of the upper mouth makes it difficult or even impossible to suck properly. Children with clefts can have issues with speech development since their mouths aren’t formed to develop the necessary muscle function. Finally, depending on how the clefts are formed, teeth may not be able to erupt correctly or even at all.

Treatment
A team of people are usually involved in correcting a cleft lip or cleft palate, such as a child’s pediatrician, oral surgeon and speech therapy specialist. The type of dental treatment provided depends on the severity of the problem – some children may require extensive surgery, while others may just need orthodontic treatment similar to braces.2

1 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Search/22,DD116
2 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Search/22,DD103


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