A baby’s lips develop between the fourth and seventh weeks of pregnancy. Completely formed lips are important for a normal facial appearance, making sounds, and for creating the proper suction needed for nursing or bottle-feeding.

Different areas of a baby’s face, including the left and right sides of the lips and roof of the mouth, develop individually during early pregnancy. The various sections then merge to form the baby’s face. Sometimes the parts do not join properly, or the sections do not meet, and this causes a cleft. People refer to a separation in the upper lip is known as a cleft lip, and a separation in the roof of the mouth as a cleft palate.

A cleft lip creates a vertical opening in the child’s upper lip, between his or her nose and mouth, creating the appearance of a split in the lip. Cleft lips can range in severity from a slight notch in the red portion of the lip to complete separation between the left and right sides of the lip.

Cleft lips may be unilateral or bilateral. A unilateral cleft features one separation that extends from the mouth to one nostril. A bilateral cleft features two separations, with each extending from the mouth to one nostril.

A cleft in the baby’s gum may sometimes occur with a cleft lip. The severity of the cleft gum may range from a small notch in the baby’s gum to a complete division into separate parts.

A cleft palate is similar to a cleft gum, except that it occurs in the roof of a baby’s mouth. Made of bone and muscle covered by thin, wet skin, the palate forms the roof of the mouth. The palate separates the nose from the mouth. It prevents air from moving through the nose instead of the mouth during speech, and prevents food and liquids from entering the nose when eating.

The soft palate is at the back of the mouth while the hard palate as at the front. A cleft palate may range in severity from a small opening at the back of the soft palate to near-complete separate of the roof of the mouth between the soft and hard palates.

It is possible to be born with a cleft palate, a cleft lip, or both. About one in every 800 babies has a cleft defect.

Dr. Sedaros Discusses Treatment for Cleft Palates and Cleft Lips in Melbourne, FL

Dr. Sedaros treats children with cleft lips or cleft palates in Melbourne, FL. Treatment alleviates problems associated with cleft lips or cleft palates, such as impaired feeding, speech, hearing, and psychological development.

Surgery is often the most effective treatment for cleft lips and cleft palates in Melbourne. FL. Dr. Sedaros typically recommends surgery for cleft lip surgery when the child is about ten years old. This procedure closes separation, restores muscle function, and provides a normal shape to the child’s mouth. Cleft lip surgery may improve deformity of the nostrils, although nostril deformity may require another surgery for complete correction.

Dr. Sedaros often recommends surgical treatment for cleft palate when a child is between 7 and 18 months old, depending on the child’s individual situation. Our doctor may recommend later treatment for a child that has other health problems, for example.

The goals of cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries are to close gaps between the roof of the mouth and the nose, reconnect muscles responsible for making the palate work, and to make the palate long enough to work well. Depending on the patient’s individual needs, Dr. Sedaros may use one of several techniques to accomplish these goals.

Treatment for Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate 

Dr. Sedaros provides cleft lip and cleft palate treatment in Melbourne, FL. Cleft lip surgery involves trimming tissues near the cleft and sewing the separate sections of the lip together. Dr. Sedaros uses very fine stitches to improve appearance and reduce scars.

Dr. Sedaros usually repairs a cleft hard palate when the cuspid teeth, which are the third teeth from the left and right of center, begin to develop. This is usually when a child is between the ages of 8 and 12 years.

In soft cleft palate surgery, Dr. Sedaros uses tissue taken from one place in the child’s mouth to cover the hold created by the cleft. To perform cleft hard palate surgery, Dr. Sedaros removes a bit of bone from the patient’s hip and places into the palate to close the hole between the nose and the mouth. Teenagers and adults may undergo the procedure, and can even combine it with corrective jaw surgery.

Most patients have an easier time swallowing food and liquid immediately after palate repair.