Cleft Lip and Palate

During early pregnancy, separate areas of the face develop individually and then join together, including the left and right sides of the roof of the mouth and lips. However, if some parts do not join properly, sections don’t meet and the result is a cleft. If the separation occurs in the upper lip, the child is said to have a cleft lip.

A completely formed lip is important not only for a normal facial appearance but also for sucking and to form certain sounds made during speech. A cleft lip is a condition that creates an opening in the upper lip between the mouth and nose. It looks as though there is a split in the lip. It can range from a slight notch in the colored portion of the lip to complete separation in one or both sides of the lip extending up and into the nose. A cleft on one side is called a unilateral cleft. If a cleft occurs on both sides, it is called a bilateral cleft.

A cleft in the gum may occur in association with a cleft lip. This may range from a small notch in the gum to a complete division of the gum into separate parts. A similar defect in the roof of the mouth is called a cleft palate.

Alveolar Clefting

Cleft patients will often have a cleft near the front of the upper jaw that may create a hole between the mouth and nose and interfere with normal dental and facial development. This condition should usually be repaired from age 9 to 12 by a combination of a bone graft and soft tissue closure. Dr. Bobo is experienced in the treatment of these types of alveolar cleft defects.

Corrective Jaw Surgery

Cleft patients often require orthognathic (corrective jaw) surgery to place the jaws into their proper alignment for normal chewing function. This procedure is commonly performed in the late teenage years. Dr. Bobo generally works with an orthodontist on this type of procedure.

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