Cleft lip is a birth defect in which the parts of the face that form the upper lip remain split, instead of sealing together before birth. Similar splits can occur in the roof of the mouth or palate. Cleft lip and cleft palate can each occur alone or together in the same person (cleft lip and palate). Cleft lip and palate happen early in foetal development. The defect may be genetic or the result of maternal environmental exposures during pregnancy.
Along with affecting the appearance of the face, cleft lip and cleft palate can present a variety of difficulties, including:
A cleft lip and palate can cause changes to the structure of the mouth and lead to problems with the development of teeth, making children more vulnerable to tooth decay. It is therefore important for the child to have their teeth checked regularly.
Children with clefts are more likely to develop tooth decay. This is partly due to crowding of the teeth, which makes it more difficult to keep them clean. The advice below may help reduce your child’s risk of developing tooth decay.
- Your child should have a dental check-up at least once every six months.
- Using a fluoride mouthwash once a day will help protect your child’s teeth against decay.
- Limit the amount of sweet and sticky food and drink your child consumes, especially between meals, as these foods increase tooth decay.
- Limit the amount of starchy foods such as crisps, white bread and biscuits that your child eats, especially between meals, to lower the risk of tooth decay.