When the upper lip fails to form completely, it is called a cleft lip, when this happens with the roof of the mouth, it is called a cleft palate. This can occur on one or both sides of the face. This is one of the most common birth defects. The cleft palate is found in approximately 2,650 children each year and about 4,440 are born with a cleft lip each year in the United States. The defect can be seen early on in fetal development as these bones and tissues form during the first six to 10 weeks.
Professionals involved in treatment.
The cleft lip and palate can cause other problems with eating, speaking, their teeth, their ears and breathing difficulties. Some of the issues are similar to other common ENT problems. For this reason and depending on the specific case, the following specialists may be involved in your child?s care:
?Ear nose, and throat doctor.
?Psychologist or therapist.
Cleft lip and palate repair.
Cleft lip and cleft palate repair surgery is available and recommended early in life. Experts recommend surgery on the cleft lip be performed before the baby reaches one year but is usually done much earlier, often within the first few months of life. Children with a cleft palate get their surgery before they reach 18 months but not before they are at least nine months old.
The exact operation that is performed depends on the severity of the deformity and whether or not it occurs on one or both sides of the face.
In a cleft lip surgery, the physician uses a special device called a molding plate or they can also use a procedure called lip adhesion. The surgery does usually leave a small scar between the lip and the nose.
The surgeon?s main goal when repairing a cleft palate is create a full palate, which allows normal speech. The plastic surgeon can rearrange tissue and connect muscle to close the cleft. Some children will need more surgery, such as bone grafts or a pharyngoplasty later. This is because things shift as the child grows. If a bone graft is needed, that normally happens between the ages of six and 10 years.
Children who are born with a cleft lip and palate run a greater risk of having dental problems so it is crucial that they be seen by a dentist on a regular basis and that their teeth are looked after. Brushing and flossing every day is more important for their health than for other children. Similarly, orthodontic treatment can help with the width of their palate. Orthodontists canse use palate expanders for this and many kids start treatment around age six. If the cleft palate resulted in the loss of a permanent tooth, a temporary dental device can be used until they are old enough for a dental implant.
Anytime a child requires surgery, it can be scary but both the cleft lip and palate are completely fixable.
If you would like to share your experiences with a cleft lip or palate, please do do in our comment section.