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Cleft Palate

About Oral Clefting

A cleft occurs when parts of the lip or palate do not completely fuse together during the first months of life. A cleft lip may appear as a small notch in the edge of the lip only or extend into the gums or nose. A cleft palate will vary in size, and because the lips and the palate develop separately, it is possible to be born with one or both.


A cleft lip is usually repaired between the ages of 3 to 6 months. Surgery is performed in the hospital under general anesthesia.

A cleft palate is usually repaired between 9 and 12 months of age. Surgery for cleft palate is performed under general anesthesia and usually requires a two night stay in the hospital. The goal of surgery is to create a palate that works well for speech. In some cases, additional surgery may be needed to improve speech.

Between 6 and 10 years old, as kids grow older, they might need additional surgeries, such as an alveolar bone graft to close the gap in the bone or gums near the front teeth to provide stability for the permanent teeth.