Children who are born with the congenital disability known as a cleft palate can have many problems if the condition is not treated early in their life. With modern dentistry, our surgeons can repair this open gap and allow the child to lead a healthy, happy life.
What is Cleft Palate?
The first few weeks of pregnancy are critical for the development of a fetus and many essential features in what will ultimately become the face are formed before the tenth week of pregnancy. One such element is the palate or roof of the mouth.
A cleft palate occurs when the tissue and cells that make up the palate don't fuse together completely. Some babies can have the front and back of the palate open, while others only have one section of the roof of their mouth that is not closed.
Why a Cleft Palate Happens?
It is still unclear why a cleft palate happens in approximately 2,650 babies in the United States. However, scientists believe this condition occurs due to multiple factors, including genetics, the future mother's diet, and environmental conditions during pregnancy. It is also associated with smoking, having diabetes, and using certain medications.
Problems Associated with a Cleft Palate
Aside from the cosmetic issues that can affect a child's social interactions later in life, a cleft palate can be responsible for problems nursing, either from a breast or bottle.
A cleft palate can also cause speech problems for a young child. Because of the open gap in their palate, children who have this condition can also experience a higher number of ear infections, hearing problems, and other dental issues.
In general, a cleft palate can be diagnosed in-utero with ultrasound, although some cases will not become evident until later on. We recommend that cleft palate surgery takes place before the child turns 18-months to reduce the risk of other oral and emotional health problems.