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Cleft Palate

Cleft palate - Cleft lip and palate are common birth defects
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Cleft palate, an opening in the roof of the mouth, and cleft lip, an opening in the lip, develops in the early stages of pregnancy. Repairing a cleft lip and palate can be done within an infant's first year, but the timing depends on the baby's health and other considerations. Typically, a team of specialists is required to repair a cleft lip and palate: a dentist, to evaluate any special dental needs; an orthodontist, to monitor jaw growth and bite problems; an oral surgeon, to perform tooth extractions, restorations and reconstruction; a prosthodontist, to develop oral appliances; and a pathologist, to help with speech. In this section, you'll find informative resources on cleft lip palate causes, care and repair.

Cleft Palate FAQs

Q: Is cleft palate genetic?
A: Cleft lip and palate are the most common birth defects associated with the head and neck. While doctors aren't certain yet what causes cleft lip palate, an infant may be more likely to be born with it if while pregnant a mother uses certain medications, drinks alcohol or takes illegal drugs, smokes, or is exposed to radiation. A family history of cleft palate can also play a role.

Q: Can cleft lip and palate be detected early?
A: In some cases, yes. With a fetal ultrasound, a cleft lip and palate may be detectable as early as 14-16 weeks into the pregnancy. This is most successful if the cleft lip or cleft palate is severe. Because an ultrasound is not always a dependable way to detect a cleft lip palate, doctors don't rely on it for diagnosis.

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