Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Cleft Lip & Palate

Cleft Lip & Palate

What is Cleft Lip & Palate?

A cleft lip is the separation of parts of the lip, which often includes the bones of the upper jaw and/or upper gum. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth in which the two sides of the palate did not join together as the unborn baby was developing.

Cleft lip and palate can occur on one side, otherwise known as unilateral cleft lip and/or palate, or on both sides, also known as bilateral cleft lip and/or palate. Because the lip and palate develop separately, it is possible for the child to have a cleft lip, a cleft palate or both.

In most cases, surgery is necessary to align and join these parts; however, the child born with a cleft may require other courses of treatment including dental/orthodontic care and speech therapy.

How is Cleft Lip & Palate Treated?

Members of Houston Methodist Hospital Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery staff belong to multidisciplinary craniofacial teams that may include an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, an ENT specialist, a plastic surgeon, an orthodontist, a pediatric dentist and a speech pathologist. This coordinated care provides total rehabilitation with a team who work together and allows for a systematic treatment plan to be developed that integrates the child’s developmental needs with those of his/her medical, surgical and dental care.

Facts About Cleft Lip & Palate

  • Cleft lip and palate is the fourth most common birth defect in the United States.
  • Cleft lips and palates occur once in every 700 births. Seven percent of births in the United States include birth defects to the head and face.
  • Clefts occur among infants of all races with a 2-to-1 male-to-female ratio.