Orofacial cleft (or simply cleft) is an oral and facial deformation that can be identified during early pregnancy. Cleft lip and cleft palate are very common birth defects where the baby may be born with an opening in the lip and/or on the roof of the mouth (palate). It occurs when the tissues of the mouth and lip do not properly join together. It may occur on one or both sides of the face. However, the cleft can be easily treated through Cleft Repair Surgery.
Causes of cleft lip/palate
A baby may be born with one or both of the defects. A cleft is generally diagnosed early on when the baby is growing in the mother’s womb. While genetics and family history are common causes of this malformation, other environmental factors like certain medications and nutrient deficiencies in the expectant mother also increase the chances of the baby being born with a cleft.
Other related problems
A cleft is not merely a physical deformity; in most cases, it also causes other problems related to feeding, dental health, and speech. Many children are also at a great risk of middle ear fluid build-up, in turn, leading to hearing loss. This needs to be periodically monitored.
Cleft repair surgery
Cleft repair surgery is a reliable procedure to correct the cleft lip and/or cleft palate. It is a type of plastic surgery aimed at not only restoring a normal appearance but also restoring functions like breathing, eating, hearing and speaking.
Cleft lip surgery – It is generally carried out when the baby is about 3-6 months old. Cleft lip repair surgery is used to bridge the gap in the lip. This helps to give a normal structure to the upper lip. Here, the surgeon makes incisions on either side of the lip and stitches the layers of tissues together. If the condition is severe, then it is followed by another lip surgery.
Palate repair surgery – Unlike cleft lip surgery, a series of surgeries are performed to repair the palate as the child grows. The first palate repair surgery is conducted when the child is around 6-12 months old. It is a specialized technique to reposition the tissues of the palate together and rebuild the roof of the mouth. This is followed by further surgeries to ensure proper development of the child’s teeth and facial bones, improve speech and breathing and reduce the chances of fluid build-up in the ears.
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The treatment for cleft lip and palate is quite extensive. Dental and orthodontic treatment and speech therapy are carried out simultaneously. Some children need a bone graft at a later stage to support the permanent teeth and give proper shape to the upper jaw. Braces are recommended to straighten crooked and malformed teeth. Although the surgeries may seem tedious and stretched over a long period of time, the scars of the surgery fade away with age and normal functioning is restored.
Dealing with cleft
It is not easy for a child to undergo treatment and deal with the scars of surgery. It is imperative that you support and help them lead a normal life. Psychological counseling is important for the child as well as the parents.
Before the surgery, you must also research and find out essential details like cleft repair cost in Mumbai, surgeons etc. before taking a decision. This will make it easier for you to book the service and hospital of your choice.
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