Cleft Lip & Palate
1 in 700 babies born in the United States and is the fourth most common birth defect. Cleft lip can occur with or without a cleft palate. These are congenital defects that form while babies are still in the womb. In the early stages of the development, the left and right sides of the mouth develop separately and then come together. If they do not fuse properly, or there is not enough tissue present, this is when a cleft lip or palate occurs. These defects can cause serious issues. While the exact cause of these defects is unknown, they can be treated. Treasure Valley Oral & Facial Surgery can help.
What is a Cleft Lip and Palate?
A cleft lip can occur with or without a cleft palate. This congenital defect occurs when the left and right sides of the upper lip do not come together correctly. It can appear as a small hole in the upper lip. In more severe cases, a cleft lip can travel up to the base of the nose and into the jawbone.
A cleft palate can also occur on its own or along with a cleft lip. This congenital defect occurs when the left and right side of the palate do not fuse correctly. It can affect the hard palate, the soft palate, or even both.
A cleft lip and palate can affect either side of the mouth. In some cases, they can affect both sides. The exact cause of a cleft lip or palate is unknown, which can make them difficult to prevent. However, these defects are both easily treatable.
What Issues are Caused by These Defects?
A cleft lip and palate can both cause significant complications. These include:
How are a Cleft Lip and Palate Treated?
Treating a cleft lip and cleft palate both require surgery. A cleft lip is typically treated when the child is around the age of 10. This procedure involves closing the hole to improve facial aesthetics. It also helps to improve muscle function. In cases of more severe cleft lips, surgery may also be required to repair nasal deformities.
Repairing a cleft palate is done much earlier. Surgery is generally performed between 7 and 18 months. Surgery involves closing the hole in the palate and connecting muscle tissues. Depending on the situation, the palate may also need to be lengthened. A cleft palate is repaired early in life to improve feeding and prevent issues with speech development. Even with early repair of a cleft palate, many children with this congenital defect may still require orthodontic treatment as they get older.
With proper treatment, a cleft lip and palate can be fixed, restoring normal oral functions and improving the quality of life of your child. For more information, and to schedule an appointment for your child, call Treasure Valley Oral & Facial Surgery at (208) 994-6227 today.