Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate near 21061

During early pregnancy, areas of the face develop separately and join together. The left and right sides of the roof of the mouth and lips come together to form what we know as a full lip and mouth. However, if some parts do not join properly and the sections don’t meet, the result is a cleft. If the separation occurs in the upper lip, the child has a cleft lip.

It is important for a child to have a normal lip not only for facial appearance but also for sucking and to form certain sounds made during speech. A cleft lip is a condition that creates an opening in the upper lip. It looks as though there is a split in the upper lip. This can range from a slight notch in the colored portion of the lip to complete separation in one or both sides of the lip extending up and into the nose. A cleft on one side is called a unilateral cleft and a cleft on both sides is called a bilateral cleft.

Cleft lip surgery is usually performed when the child is about ten years old. The goal of surgery is to close the separation, restore muscle function, and provide a normal shape to the mouth. If a nostril deformity exists, it may be improved as a result of this procedure or a separate procedure may be needed.

Cleft Palate

The palate is the hard bone that composes the roof of your mouth. The palate consists of bone covered by muscle and a thin layer of skin. The purpose of the roof of the mouth or palate is to separate your nose from your mouth. The palate plays an extremely important role during speech because when you talk, it prevents air from blowing out of your nose instead of your mouth. The palate also acts a barrier when you eat by preventing food and liquids from going up into the nose.

Similarly to a cleft lip, a cleft palate occurs in early pregnancy when areas of the face develop separately and join together. The left and right sides of the palate come together to form the roof of the mouth. However, when the parts do not join together and the sections don’t meet, the result is a cleft. The back of the palate is called the soft palate and the front is the hard palate. A cleft palate can range from just an opening at the back of the soft palate to a nearly complete separation of the roof of the mouth.

Sometimes a baby with a cleft palate may have difficulties with breathing easily and have a condition called Pierre Robin sequence. Since the lip and palate develop separately, it is possible for a child to be born with a cleft lip, cleft palate or both. Cleft defects occur in about 1 or 2 of every 1,000 babies.

In most cases, surgery is recommended to help the child with feeding, speech, hearing and psychological development. The result can often be quite positive when a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon performs it.

Cleft palate surgery is usually performed between the ages of 7 and 18 months old. This depends on the severity of the case and the individual child. The goal of the surgery is to close the hold between the roof of the mouth and the nose and reconnect the muscles that make the palate work. The surgery also attempts to repair the palate long enough so that he palate can perform its function properly.

The cleft hard palate surgery is generally performed between the ages of 8 and 12 when the cuspid teeth begin to develop. Often times, bone is taken from the hip and placed into the bone defect to close the communication from the nose. This surgery may also be performed in teenagers and adults.

There are many different surgical techniques that are patient specific and should be discussed with your surgeon.

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