Each year, cleft and craniofacial conditions impact thousands of infants in the United States. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in every 1,600 infants are born with both cleft lip with cleft palate in the United States. While approximately 1 in every 2,800 infants are born with only cleft lip, and about 1 in every 1,700 babies are born with only cleft palate. These phenomenons occur when an infant's upper lip or roof of the mouth does not completely fuse together during pregnancy. The month of July marks National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month, which is the perfect time to spread awareness and learn more about orofacial clefts and complex craniofacial conditions. The American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA) aims to increase knowledge and create situations catered to help individuals with these conditions thrive.
What is Cleft Lip?
During the amazing development of an infant during pregnancy, body tissue from each side of the head grow toward the center of the face and come together to create the face. A cleft lip occurs if the tissue that creates the lip does not join completely. This creates an opening in the lip in the middle or on either side of the lip, and can sometimes extend to the nose. Lip formation normally occurs between the fourth and seventh weeks of pregnancy.
What is Cleft Palate?
A cleft palate results if the tissue of the roof of the mouth, also known as the palate, does not come together completely during pregnancy. This can occur in the front, back, or spanning across the entire palate. The formation of the roof of the mouth naturally occurs between the sixth and ninth weeks of pregnancy.
What Is Cleft Lip and Palate?
Orofacial clefts can cause children to experience other problems, including problems with their teeth, feeding, speaking, and hearing. Research is continuously being conducted to help become more knowledgeable of these conditions in hopes for prevention. Cleft and craniofacial conditions typically require long and challenging treatment methods, and require a multi-professional team approach consisting of medical, surgical, dental and other health professionals.
Orofacial clefts are normally diagnosed during pregnancy with routine ultrasounds or after the baby is born. Certain types of cleft palate, such as a submucous cleft palate and bifid uvula may not be diagnosed until later in life.
Treatment can vary depending on the severity of the condition, in addition to the child's age and presence of other birth defects. Cleft lip surgery normally occurs within the first year of life as recommended. It is recommended to repair cleft palate within the first 18 months of life or earlier. It is common for many children to need additional surgeries later on in life to help improve not only appearance, but breathing, hearing, and speech development. Children with orofacial clefts may also need special dental or orthodontic care. Treatment of orofacial clefts have been proven effective and most children lead a healthy life.
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Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Derek, and Dr. Emad is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Stephens would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.