Cleft Lip and Palate

Communication and Dental Issues in Children


  • Combination of genetic and environmental factors
  • Happens more often in children of Asian, Latino, or Native American descent
  • Certain medicines during pregnancy
  • Moms who don't get the right amount of prenatal nutrients
  • Women who smoke cigarettes, use drugs, or drink alcohol during pregnancy
  • Moms who binge drink during the first weeks of pregnancy

Health Concerns

Feeding Problems

Middle Ear Fluid Buildup and Hearing Loss

Dental Problems

Speech Problems



Cleft lip can be surgically repaired starting at age 3, and the repair usually leaves a small scar on the lip under the nose. A cleft palate can be repaired starting at age 9-12, and the recovery is pretty short. Ultimately, this will help speech, but some children may still sound nasal and have a nasal voice later. As children grow up and their face structure is changing, they might choose to have more surgery to help improve speech, provide stability for permanent teeth, and improve breathing, overbites/underbites, and appearance.

Dental and Orthodontic:

It is very important to maintain healthy teeth and prevent cavities, because these kids have more dental problems than other kids. They can get orthodontic treatment starting at age 6. If they are missing teeth, then they can be replaced in early adulthood.

Speech Therapy:

Once kids repair cleft lip and palate, they may need speech therapy from a speech-language pathologist to monitor their progress and help necessary areas of speech.

Severe Cleft Palate

Raising a Child with Severe Cleft Palate -- The Doctors