Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft lip and cleft palate are two common but markedly different birth defects that affect about one in every 700 newborns. These developmental deformities occur in the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy; cleft lip in week seven, and cleft palate in week nine. A cleft lip is essentially a separation of the two sides of the lip. In many cases, this separation will include the bone and gum of the upper jaw. A cleft palate occurs when the sides of the palate fail to “fuse” as the fetus is developing, which results in an opening in the roof of the mouth.

The cleft can occur on one side of the mouth (unilateral) or both sides of the mouth (bilateral). Surgery will typically be performed in the child’s first six months to close the openings. Dental restoration caused by the deformity is handled later in the child’s life.

Dr. Luque and his team handle hundreds of cleft lip and palate surgeries annually. Cleft lip and palate surgeries performed at the Center include primary closure of cleft lip, secondary revision of cleft lip and hard and soft palate; repair of oral-nasal fistula, cleft orthognathic surgery, maxillary osteotomy, mandibular osteotomy and alveolar cleft grafting.