Cleft palates and cleft lips are facial deformities caused by abnormal facial development during a child’s gestation period. The gap in the upper lip near the nose is a characteristic of these deformities as the hard palates fails to completely join. When the tissues fail to meet here, a gap will appear across the nasal cavity at the roof of the mouth where the septum meets the upper lip. The exact location and severity of the malformation will vary from case to case, but the importance of having these deformities corrected is the same in every instance.
Correcting cleft palates requires a fairly routine surgery and should ideally be done by the time the child is 10 weeks. Early surgeries can help prevent complications and ensure that the child develops positive speech and social skills. Speech impediments and negative social development are all serious concerns with uncorrected cleft palates.
Causes of Cleft Palates
The precise genetic origins of cleft palates are not fully understood, but genes involved in craniofacial development are thought to have a lot to do with the formation of cleft palates from some type of genetic mutation. Certain syndromes and gestation problems have also been studied for their possible association with cleft palates. Environmental factors such as: maternal smoking, alcohol abuse, hypertension treatments, pesticide and lead exposure, diet, and drug use are all potential contributing factors that may influence genetics and lead to the emergence of cleft palates.
Cleft Palate Treatment and Care
Cleft lips and palates are typically surgically corrected from an early age to prevent speech impediments and social development problems. These surgeries close the gap in the lip and palate, line up scars, and conceal stitches to present a natural looking, scar free upper lip and nasal area. Special care must be undertaken when brushing both before and after surgery since lips and gums can be particularly sensitive.
Maintaining oral hygiene with cleft palates requires consulting with a physician and dentist regarding specific conditions and the most appropriate course of oral care. Cleft palates should be addressed with corrective surgery as soon as possible. Defects like cleft lips and palates occur in roughly one and every seven hundred births. As fairly common problems, these defects can be fairly easily corrected through surgical treatment.