Cleft Lip and Palate
A cleft lip (hare lip) is an opening in the lip. A cleft palate (palatoschisis) is an opening in the upper side of the mouth. The palate is the combination of two parts - the soft palate and the hard palate. The hard palate is made of bone and is towards the front of your mouth. The soft palate is made up of muscle and tissue and is towards the back of your mouth. Cleft lip and cleft palate are among the most common birth defects affecting children. A cleft lip or combined cleft lip and palate are more common in boys, but a cleft palate on its own is more common in girls.
A child may be affected with a cleft lip, cleft palate or both. A cleft can go only partly through the lip or palate or all the way through. Sometimes there is an opening in the bony part of the palate that is covered by a layer of thin tissue. You may not be able to see this opening since it is covered. This is called a submucous cleft palate. A cleft palate leaves an opening between the roof of the child's mouth and his nose.
The risk of a cleft lip or palate is increased by:
- Drinking large amounts of alcohol during pregnancy
- Taking certain medicines during pregnancy
- A deficiency in folic acid during pregnancy
- Maternal infection during pregnancy
A surgery to correct cleft lip is normally performed at around the age of three months whereas a cleft palate is surgically corrected between six and 15 months. Normally a baby can have feeding problem before surgery; a plate may be fitted into the roof of the mouth. Special feeding teats are also available.
Maxillofacial treatment can cure the cleft lip and palate problem. This treatment provides state-of-the-art technique for patients which would enable the patient to have a better, faster and painless recovery.