- Slideshow: Top Problems in Your Mouth
- Teeth Whiteners That Work
- Dental (Oral) Health Quiz
- Patient Comments: Cleft Lip or Cleft Palate - Patient Experience
- Find a local Plastic Surgeon in your town
- Cleft lip and cleft palate facts
- What is a cleft lip? What is a cleft palate?
- How often do cleft lip and cleft palate occur?
- What are the causes and risk factors for developing a cleft lip and cleft palate?
- How do physicians diagnose a cleft lip and cleft palate?
- What are complications of a cleft lip and cleft palate?
- What is the treatment for a cleft lip and cleft palate?
- What is the prognosis for a cleft lip and cleft palate?
- Is it possible to prevent a cleft lip or cleft palate?
Cleft lip and cleft palate facts
- Cleft lip and palate are developmental defects of the upper lip and roof of the mouth that are present at birth (congenital malformations).
- Cleft lip and palate may occur separately and in combination.
- Both malformations occur as a consequence of incomplete fusion of the developing lip (normally occurs by 35 days of gestation) or of incomplete fusion of the hard or soft palate (normally occurs by the eighth to ninth week of gestation).
What is a cleft lip? What is a cleft palate?
A cleft lip is an opening extending through the upper lip. It may be in the midline (center) or left and/or right side of the lip. A cleft palate is an opening of the hard palate (the bony front portion of the roof of the mouth) or the soft palate (the muscular non-bony region in the rear of the roof of the mouth. Similar to a cleft lip, a cleft palate may be midline and/or to either right of left side of the palate. A cleft palate may extend from the upper jawbone to the rear of the throat.
Since development of the lip and palate occur at different times during gestation, an infant may have either a cleft lip or cleft palate or clefting of both regions.
How often do cleft lip and cleft palate occur?
Cleft lip, either as a sole malformation or coupled with cleft palate occur in approximately one in 700 live births. Boys are twice as likely to have a cleft lip with or without an associated cleft palate. On the other hand, girls are more likely to have a cleft palate alone (those not associated with a cleft lip malformation). Ethnic background has been shown to affect the frequency of clefts. Children of Asian, Latino, or Native American ancestry are more frequently affected when compared to those of Caucasian background.