Cleft lip and palate are variations of a type of congenital deformity created by abnormal facial development during gestation. A cleft is a fissure, or gap, that develops as a result of the non-fusion of the body’s natural facial structures that form before birth. It has an incidence of between one in 600-800 births. The highest prevalence of cleft lip and palate are reported for Native Americans and Asians, while Africans have the lowest incidence.
Cleft lip and palate are very treatable. Most children with a form of clefting are cared for by a Cleft Palate Team through young adulthood. Within the first 2-3 months after birth, surgery is performed to close the cleft lip. Typically, a cleft palate is surgically repaired between 6-12 months after birth. Combinations of surgical and repeated surgeries are often performed as a child grows. Surgery to repair and graft the alveolar bone is typically done between 10-12 years of age. When indicated, orthognathic, or corrective jaw surgery, is usually accomplished after skeletal growth is complete.
CLEFT PALATE TEAM
A cleft palate team is the most ideal model for comprehensive treatment of the cleft palate patient. It is normally a hospital-based team, comprised of the following medical and dental specialists: Plastic Surgery, Otolaryngology/ENT, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics, Pedodontics, Speech Pathology, Audiology, and Social Services. Allowing an entire team to care for the cleft lip and palate patient provides the best and most consistent outcomes in every aspect of a child’s care. The doctors of Berks Oral Surgery are all part of the Cleft Palate Team at the Reading Hospital and Medical Center.