Different Types of Facial Clefts

Orofacial clefts, likewise known as cleft lip or cleft palate, are one of the most usual birth abnormalities in the United States.

Actually, it is estimated that about 2,650 infants are born with a cleft palate each year in the US, and about 4,440 are born with a cleft lip. A cleft happens during the early stages of pregnancy while the baby’s face is forming. When the parts of the face fail to join together during this time, it causes a cleft.

Cleft in the Past

Orofacial clefts have been documented in medical history as early as 390 B.C. The very first successful cleft lip surgery occurred in China. Wey Young-Chi was the first person to undergo surgery to repair his cleft lip when he was 18 years old. After that, he signed up with the imperial military where he found much success and acknowledgment. He was also recorded as saying that he never would have achieved as much as he did if it had not been for the surgery that repaired his cleft.

What Are Cleft Lip Features

A cleft lip takes place when the cells that develop the lips do not connect prior to birth, leading to a gap in the upper lip. The dimension of the hole can range between a small slit to a large opening that extends from the lip to the nose. Furthermore, there are three sorts of cleft lip: bilateral (occurs on both sides), unilateral (occurs on one side), or full (meaning that the cleft starts at the lip and goes up right into the nose).

What Are Cleft Palate Features

Comparable to a cleft lip, a cleft palate happens when the tissue that makes up the roof of the mouth does not fuse while the mother is pregnant, leading to a gap. A child’s palate may be disrupted in the soft palate–the area in the back of the mouth–or in the hard palate– the location closest to the lips—-Some babies have voids in both locations.


The CDC has shared their data on some factors that might increase the chance that a mother will give birth to a baby who has orofacial clefts. However, it ought to be noted that the reasons for this defect are mostly unknown, and clefts can happen for causes that are out of the mother’s control.

Those who smoke during their pregnancy, contract diabetes before becoming pregnant, or use medications to deal with epilepsy within the first three months of pregnancy are at an increased risk of giving birth to an infant with a cleft lip and/or palate when compared to people that do not belong to any of these variables. Some other causes can consist of family history, obesity, and alcohol usage.

Negative Side Effects

While orofacial slits are able to be corrected, the existence of these splits causes certain concerns for the child. For example, one of the challenges when taking care of a baby with a cleft palate is difficult meals. Because the cleft occurs in the palate for some infants, it can cause issues in the baby’s ability to suckle and swallow. A cleft palate can additionally put the infant in danger of developing hearing loss and also liquid in the ear. Other risks include interrupting the growth of a typical speech pattern, a nasally voice, interrupted oral growth, and also social, emotional, and behavior problems.

Diagnosis and Therapy

Orofacial clefts can be diagnosed while the mother is pregnant by use of a normal ultrasound. Cleft palates, however, are normally identified soon after birth. Surgical procedures to repair clefts is suggested to occur within the initial 18 months of life.

In terms of cleft lip surgical procedures, the medical professional will make lacerations on each side of the cleft. With the flaps of skin, muscle, and intraoral tissue, the doctor stitches everything together in order to shut the cleft. With the separation closed, the nose and lip makeup can be given a more normal structure and feature.

On the other hand, a slit palate requires the medical professional the roof of the mouth to be restored. Similar to a cleft lip surgical treatment, the physician will make incisions on either side of the slit. The tissues of the hard and soft palate are repositioned and the cut is sewn back up.

Normally, kids born with a cleft need to receive further medical care following the initial surgical treatment to shut the cleft. These added therapies will assist the child to construct stronger speech as well as language development, also improving their hearing and breathing. They may need speech treatment or special dental care. Regardless of the surgical procedures and additional assistance, the majority of babies with orofacial clefts tend to lead normal lives.

Do you want to read more articles that Dr. Levine has written? You can find all kinds of specific topics concerning dental practices and useful patient information on Dr. Levine’s blog.

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