Cleft Lip and Palate is the most common congenital abnormality to affect the face region in the UK. Therefore currently, about 1200 babies are born with a type of cleft every year in the UK. Cleft literally means a split and in cleft lip and palate this split exists between parts of the face which have not fused together during the development of the face, in early pregnancy. The most common type of clefting seen is Cleft Palate which only affects the roof of the mouth (45%) and least common is Bilateral Cleft Lip and Palate, which affects both sides of lip and roof of the mouth (10%).
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People with this at birth can suffer from impaired facial growth, dental anomalies, speech disorders, poor hearing and difficulties in psychological well-being and social relationships. The pathway of care for these babies extends from pre-birth, when detected from antenatal scans, to adult life.These babies are treated by regional specialist cleft teams. The aim of the teams is to provide surgery and specialist care for patients with cleft lip and palate in order to ensure that they achieve good feeding from birth, a good facial appearance, satisfactory hearing, normal speech and psycho-social well being. Its management requires the involvement of many specialties through growth and development to the age of at least 20 years, as well as treatment of adults of any age. Routine care often does not cease at 20 years of age and may continue for a number of further years.
Orthodontic care for patients with Cleft Lip and Palate
Care covers a wide range of procedures and specialties including orthodontics. A Lead Consultant Orthodontist is responsible in each team for coordinating orthodontic treatment for children in their area. The aim of this care is to provide high quality orthodontic treatment which forms part of an integrated treatment plan with the other specialties involved in the cleft care. Also Orthodontists working in cleft teams may provide additional services like speech plates which aid speech when surgery is not a viable option, advise on accessing other aspects of dentistry and preventing dental disease, particularly dental caries which is more of a problem in people with cleft.