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Cleft Lip and Palate

The fourth most common birth defect in the United States, cleft lip and cleft palate affect one in every 700 newborns each year. A cleft lip is a separation of the two sides of the lip, usually involving the bones of the upper jaw, upper gum, or both. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth in which the two sides of the palate did not fuse or join together properly. Cleft lip and cleft palate can occur on one side or both sides.

Because cleft lip and cleft palate are apparent at birth, most people have surgery to correct the defect early in life. However, follow-up surgery often is necessary later on to treat any deformities that still exist after initial treatment. These may include deformities of the lip and nose, as well as abnormalities of the teeth and jaw.

Our Approach to Cleft Lip and Palate

UCSF's oral and maxillofacial (jaw and face) surgeons are experts in evaluating and treating problems of the teeth and jaw resulting from a cleft lip or palate. With training in both surgery and dentistry, our specialists work with adult patients to identify the approach that best suits individual needs. The treatment plan may include bone grafting to provide stability for the lip, nose and mouth while improving cosmetic appearance. We also offer a range of dental implant systems and procedures.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.