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Cleft Lip and Palate

Smiling BabyCleft lip and palate are facial deformities or malformations that occur during early stages of pregnancy. Inadequate tissue production results in the failure of lip and palate closure making it difficult for the baby to breathe, feed and swallow once it is born. Fortunately, there are treatment options in dentistry that can help individuals born with such malformations to lead normal lives.

Cleft lip appears a split or gap between the upper lip extending up to the base of the nose. In severe case, the cleft can also involve the maxillary bone. Cleft palate on the other hand is an opening in the roof of the mouth involving the hard and/or the soft palate. One in every 700 babies are born with either one of these malformations, or both together. A combination of genital and environmental factors is responsible for the development of clefts and therefore, they cannot be prevented in utero. It is likely for an infant to be born with clefts if there has been a history of the condition in his/her family. Consuming certain drugs and exposure to viruses or chemicals can also contribute to the development of the abnormality.

Prenatal ultrasounds can detect clefting in babies prior to their birth. This can allow for parents to discuss treatment options with maxilla-facial surgeons. Cleft lip and palate both require surgical intervention to restore the child’s ability to feed, respire and swallow normally. Custom fabricated prosthetic appliances may also be designed for the correction of a separated palate. Apart from the restoration of functionality, it is possible to improve the facial aesthetics of individuals born with cleft lips with the help of cosmetic surgery.

At Oral Surgery Specialists of Austin, we specialize in the correction of facial and dental irregularities. Book an appointment with our team today to learn all about congenital malformations and their treatment options.


Derrick Flint, MD, DDS | Matthew Largent, MD, DDS