Is A Cleft Lip Different From A Cleft Palate?

Orofacial clefts, likewise called cleft lip or cleft palate, are one of the most typical abnormalities in the United States.

Actually, it is estimated that around 2,650 infants are born with a cleft palate every year in the United States, and about 4,440 are born with a cleft lip. A cleft results during very early pregnancy while the baby’s face is growing. When the parts of the face neglect to fuse during pregnancy, a cleft occurs.

The First Cleft Surgery

Cleft lips have been documented in medical history since 390 B.C. As a matter of fact, during this time, the first effective surgical procedure to correct a cleft lip occurred in China. Wey Young-Chi was the first patient to undergo surgery to fix his cleft lip when he was 18 years old. Afterward, he signed up with the royal military where he found much success and recognition. He was even noted as believing that he never would have attained that much it had not been for the surgery that restored his cleft.

What Are Cleft Lip Characteristics

A cleft lip occurs when the cells that form the lips do not join before birth, and this results in a hole in the upper lip. The size with this gap can range between a tiny split to a gaping hole that stretches from the lip to the nose. There are three sorts of cleft lip: unilateral (takes place on one side), bilateral (takes place on both sides), or complete (meaning that the cleft starts at the lip and rises right into the nose).

What Are Cleft Palate Characteristics

Similar to a cleft lip, a cleft palate happens when the tissue that composes the roof of the mouth doesn’t link while the mother is pregnant, causing a space. A baby’s palate could be interfered with in the soft palate–the location in the back of the mouth–or in the hard palate– the area nearest to the lips– and in many cases, some babies have voids in both locations.


The CDC has actually presented their results on some factors that might enhance the probability that a mom will give birth to a child with orofacial clefts. However, it ought to be kept in mind that the reasons for this deformity are mostly unidentified, and also clefts can occur for reasons that are out of the mother’s control.

Women who smoke through their pregnancy, contract diabetic issues before becoming pregnant, or take medications to deal with epilepsy within the first three months of becoming pregnant are at a greater danger of giving birth to an infant with a slit lip and/or palate contrasted to people that do not fall under any of these variables. Other reasons can consist of family history, excessive weight while pregnant, and alcohol use.

Side Effects

Even though orofacial clefts are able to be dealt with, the presence of these splits, as well as gaps, triggers certain concerns for the child. As an example, one of one of the most concerning obstacles when managing a child with a cleft palate is difficult feedings. Because the cleft happens in the palate for some infants, it can create issues in the baby’s capacity to suckle and swallow. A cleft palate can likewise put the baby in jeopardy for developing hearing loss and also fluid in the ear, along with interrupting the advancement of the infant creating a regular speech pattern and triggering the baby to have a nasally voice. Other issues include interrupted oral advancement and social, psychological, and also behavioral issues.

Diagnosis & Therapy

Orofacial slits can be spotted and diagnosed during pregnancy by use of a routine ultrasound. Slit palates, however, are generally diagnosed only after birth. Surgical treatments to fix clefts is advised to take place within the initial 18 months of life.

In terms of cleft lip surgery, the physician will create lacerations on each side of the cleft. With the flaps of skin, muscular tissue, as well as intraoral tissue, the medical professional stitches them together to close the slit. With the cleft closed, the lip and nose anatomy can be offered a more regular structure and function.

A cleft palate calls for the doctor to rebuild the roof of the mouth. Comparable to a cleft lip surgery, the medical professional will make incisions on either side of the slit. The tissues of the hard and soft palate are then repositioned and the incision is sewn back together.

It is normal for infants born with a cleft to need to continue to receive additional treatment after the preliminary surgery. These additional therapies will certainly aid in the development of more powerful speech and language advancement, in addition to improving their hearing and breathing. Likewise, these children need speech therapy or unique dental care. Regardless of the surgical procedures and additional aid, many kids with orofacial clefts often tend to lead regular and healthy lives. That being said, babies commonly obtain the ability to function typically after the clefts have been fixed in surgical treatment.

Dr. Hodges has written more articles about the different kinds of dental practices and useful topics for his patients. To read them, you can find Dr. Hodges’ blog here.