By Dr Venkata Ramana, Cosmetic/Plastic Surgery
What is Cleft Palate?
Cleft Palate is known to occur when the roof of the human mouth, does not close completely. This leads to an opening that can almost extend to the nasal cavity. The cleft can involve any of the two sides of the palate. It is generally extended from the front portion of the mouth known as hard-palate to the throat which is known as the soft palate. At times, the cleft also includes the portion of the lips. While the cleft lip can be noticed by all, the cleft palate remains hidden as it lies inside of the mouth. The only abnormality in a child can be cleft lip, or it can also be associated with the other syndromes and cleft lip.
Complications arising due to Cleft Palate-
- Difficulties while feeding a baby is faced more with the ones having cleft palate. The infant may not be able to suck properly as the roof of the mouth has not completely formed.
- Ear infections are common and are caused due to the dysfunctioning of a tube that connects the throat and the middle ear. Infections if recurrent can often lead to loss of hearing.
- The functions of the muscles are generally decreased due to the opening of the roof of the mouth which leads to delay in speech or abnormal speech.
- The teeth may not come out properly due to the abnormalities which require orthodontic treatment.
Treatment For Cleft Palate-
The repairs of the cleft palate with the help of plastic surgery are generally done between the ages of 9 to 12. The surgery is quite complicated and hence is done when the baby gets bigger for tolerating it. The plastic surgery helps in fixing the roof of the mouth so that the child can learn to talk and eat normally. The first surgery may sometimes be followed by a second surgery. It can cause a lot of pain and all the medicines provided after the surgery should be taken only by consulting a pediatrician. Due to the location and pain of the surgery, the child may not be able to eat or drink and hence, an intravenous catheter is used for helping the child with fluids till he can properly drink.