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Cleft Lip & Palate

While babies are forming within the womb, a number of bones and tissues have to align for things to join properly. In the case of the mouth, there is a condition that arises when the two palates that make up the roof of the mouth do not align—this is known as a cleft. Cleft lips and palates are treatable, but the level of success depends on the severity of the cleft.

Cleft Lip

A cleft lip is a condition that affects the upper lip of roughly 1 in 1000 babies born in the United States. A cleft lip results in an opening at the top of the upper lip, either in the middle of the lip or to one side. Sometimes the cleft can start on one side of the nose and reach all the way to the other. A cleft lip can result in difficulty speaking, eating and drinking.

The cleft can affect tooth placement and result in a gum line that isn’t fully formed.

Cleft Palate

A cleft palate can have all the same indicators and effects on the child as a cleft lip. A cleft palate has an opening in the roof of the mouth that opens into the nasal cavity, but a cleft lip does not.


Cleft lip and palate are treatable conditions. Children with these conditions usually require the skills and consultation of a few different medical professionals to manage all the issues that can arise. In many cases our doctors are able to treat these conditions surgically with impressive results.

Cleft lips can start being treated several months after birth, to close the gap in the lip and restore function to the mouth. Occasionally multiple surgeries will be required, depending on the case at hand.

Cleft palate is usually treated early on with a prosthetic device designed specifically for covering the roof of the mouth and creating a barrier between the mouth and the nasal cavity. Surgery to correct a cleft palate is typically done between the ages of six months and one year.

Call our office today at San Jose - (408) 479-9449, Gilroy - (408) 479-8788 or Los Banos - (209) 826-4312 with any questions you have, or to set up an appointment.
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