Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip (cont.)
What Problems Are Associated With Cleft Lip
and/or Cleft Palate?
- Eating problems. With a separation or opening in the
palate, food and liquids can pass from the mouth back through the
nose. Fortunately, specially designed baby bottles and nipples that
help keep fluids flowing downward toward the stomach are available.
Children with a cleft palate may need to wear a man-made palate to
help them eat properly and ensure that they are receiving adequate
nutrition until surgical treatment is provided.
- Ear infections/hearing loss. Children with cleft palate
are at increased risk of ear infections since they are more prone to
fluid build-up in the middle ear. If left untreated, ear infections
can cause hearing loss. To prevent this from happening, children
with cleft palate usually need special tubes placed in the eardrums
to aid fluid drainage, and their hearing needs to be checked once a
- Speech problems. Children with cleft lip or cleft palate
may also have trouble speaking. These children's voices don't carry
well, the voice may take on a nasal sound, and the speech may be
difficult to understand. Not all children have these problems and
surgery may fix these problems entirely for some. For others, a
special doctor, called speech pathologist, will work with the child
to resolve speech difficulties.
- Dental Problems. Children with clefts are more prone to a
larger than average number of cavities and often have missing, extra, malformed, or displaced
teeth requiring dental and orthodontic treatments. In addition,
children with cleft palate often have an alveolar ridge defect. The
alveolus is the bony upper gum that contains teeth. A defect in the
alveolus can (1) displace, tip, or rotate permanent teeth, (2)
prevent permanent teeth from appearing, and (3) prevent the alveolar
ridge from forming. These problems can usually be repaired through oral
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