A cleft is a gap or split in the upper lip and/or roof of the mouth (palate). It is present from birth. The gap is there because parts of the baby's face didn't join together properly during development in the womb. This results in the baby looking like the above pictures.
Cleft cases are not uncommon. They happen in 1/500 to 1/1000 of new born. cleft happen In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
It is important for expecting parents to do a 3D ultrasound to make sure their baby is ok. Early diagnosis of cleft allow the parents to understand the condition of their baby and get the necessary consultation before the baby is born. This will facilitate a smooth and stress free treatment later in baby’s life.
Cleft management should be done within a team of specialists that are trained to handle such cases. key personnel in such team are plastic surgeon, orthodontist, speech therapist, and pediatric medical doctor, and a social worker.
The orthodontist's role start from the first week of the baby's life by using the nasoalveolar molding device. This will mold the deformed nose into a more normal shape, and also approximate the bony and soft tissue segments for smoother surgery. Later the orthodontist monitor growth and prepare the adolescent for bone graft, and align teeth within the cleft. The orthodontist will plan the final treatment when growth of face is complete. ONLY Craniofacial orthodontist with the relevent qualifications can perform such services to Cleft patients