A Look into Cleft Lips and Cleft Palates

Bellflower Oral Facial Surgery & Dental Implant Center would like to take a moment to discuss cleft lips and cleft palates in this blog. There are a number of contributing factors to cleft lips and cleft palates, including:

  • Problems with genes passed down from one or both parents
  • Drugs
  • Viruses
  • Toxins (environmental or chemical)

All of these factors can cause birth defects like cleft lip and cleft palate, which can also occur along with other syndromes and birth defects.

Cleft lip and cleft palate are facial and oral malformations. They can occur very early in pregnancy, during the baby’s initial development stages inside the mother. Clefting is the result of insufficient tissue in the mouth or lip area: tissue that is unable to join together properly.

Those Who Live with Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate

This condition affects 700 babies annually. It’s the fourth most common birth defect in the U.S. However, clefts occur more often in children of the following descents:

  • Asian
  • Latino
  • Native American

Potential Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Problems

Cleft lips and cleft palates can cause problems beyond the cosmetic or aesthetic, including:

Eating problems

Separations and openings in the palate encourage food and liquids to pass from the mouth back through the nose. Specially-designed products like baby bottles and nipples can help keep fluids flowing downward toward the stomach. Children with cleft palates may need to wear an artificial, man-made palate to encourage proper eating, ensuring adequate nutrition until surgical treatment can be explored and provided.

Ear infections & Hearing loss

Children with cleft palate live with an increased risk of getting ear infections. Fluid build-up tends to accumulate in the middle ear, and, if left untreated, ear infections can cause eventual hearing loss. Usually, special tubes can be placed in the eardrums to aid fluid drainage. Checking hearing once a year at least is vital.

Speech problems

Children with cleft lip or cleft palate often have trouble speaking clearly. The voice might not carry as well, may also make a nasal sound, and speech may be indiscernible to a casual listener. Surgery can often fix these problems entirely. A speech pathologist can also work with the individual to resolve a multitude of speech difficulties.

Dental Problems

Children with clefts are prone to cavities and having cavities in larger numbers. Often, those who live with cleft palates and often have missing, extra, malformed, or displaced teeth. This can require a number of dental and orthodontic treatments, which we provide at Bellflower Oral Facial Surgery & Dental Implant Center.

In addition, children with cleft palate exhibit an alveolar ridge defect. The alveolus is the bony upper gum which contains teeth. Alveolus defects can:

  • Displace, tip, or rotate permanent teeth
  • Prevent permanent teeth from appearing
  • Prevent a healthy alveolar ridge from forming

Oral surgery is often necessary to treat alveolar defects.

Why Choose Bellflower Oral Facial Surgery & Dental Implant Center for Cleft Lip and/or Palate Treatment?

As you read above, having a cleft palate or lip can come attached with a number of oral health and medical problems. It takes a village, a team of doctors and specialists to care for these patients. Members of a cleft lip and palate team typically include:

  • Plastic surgeons
  • An otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat doctor)
  • An oral surgeon
  • An orthodontist & dentist
  • A prosthodontist
  • A speech pathologist
  • A speech therapist
  • An audiologist (treating communication disorders stemming from hearing impairment)

If you have any lingering questions about cleft palates and cleft lips, contact Bellflower Oral Facial Surgery & Dental Implant Center today. We’ll schedule you and your child’s consultation and discuss your options moving forward.