Picture of cleft palate

Cleft Palate

Cleft lip and palate is the most common congenital anomaly (“birth defect”) of the head and face. When there is a cleft of the lip, there is a separation or a gap within the upper lip. This separation can vary from a subtle notch or groove to a wide gap. This separation can involve the roof of the mouth, or palate, also. Cleft Lip and Palate (CLP) and isolated Cleft Palate (CP) are two separate entities.

Does the cleft cause my baby any pain?

No, clefts are not painful for the infant. From the infant’s point of view, the cleft is “normal”. Facial movements, such as with crying or smiling, are not painful for infants with clefts.

Are there different types of Cleft Palate?

Just as there are variations in the types of cleft lip, there are also different types of cleft palate. The palate forms the roof of the mouth, and extends from the gums just behind the lip to the uvula toward the back of the throat. Cleft palates may be Unilateral or Bilateral, depending on whether there is a gap on one side or both sides of the midline. The cleft may include just the front of the palate, just the back of the palate, or the entire palate.

What are the different types of Cleft Lip?

When the cleft occurs on only one side of the upper lip, it is called a Unilateral Cleft Lip. When it occurs on both sides of the upper lip, it is called a Bilateral Cleft Lip. When the cleft results in a gap that goes all the way from the lip and mouth into the nose, it is called a Complete cleft. When the gap does not extend from the mouth all the way into the nose, it is called an Incomplete cleft. When the incomplete cleft is very minor (a groove or a notch), it is called a Microform cleft. Cleft lip and palate is more common on the left side, less common on the right, and least common bilaterally.

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