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A cleft lip is the result of the separate sections of the upper lip not joining together properly during pregnancy. It creates an opening in the upper lip between the mouth and the nose and can be hindering from making certain sounds and sucking.
The roof of your mouth, or the palate, is a critical part of properly eating, talking, and even breathing. A cleft palate occurs when there is an opening in the roof of the mouth. Because the lip and the palate develop separately, it is possible for a child to be born with a cleft lip, palate or both. Surgery is usually recommended in most cleft cases.
Cleft Lip Treatment
Cleft lip surgery is usually performed when the child is around the age of 10, and is to close the separation, restore muscle function and provide a more normal shape to the mouth.
Cleft Palate Treatment
A cleft palate is initially treated with surgery when the child is between 7 and 18 months old, depending on the individual case. The goals of the surgery are to close the gap or hole between the roof of the mouth and nose, reconnect the muscles that make the palate work, and make the repaired palate long enough so that the palate can perform its function properly. There are many different techniques surgeons can use to achieve these goals and can be decided on between both the parents and surgeons.
Cleft hard palate surgery is generally repaired between the ages of 8 and 12 as the cuspid teeth begin to develop and involves the placement of bone from the hip into the bony defect.
What Can Be Expected After The Surgery?
After the palate has been fixed, swallowing food and liquids will be immediately easier. Every one out of five children who have the surgery will have a portion of the repair split, and depending on the size of the split, it can cause minor leakage of fluids or more significant complications.