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Cleft Palate Types

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There are several main types of cleft palate, and these can affect the type of surgery required. When a cleft palate is associated with a cleft lip, there is most often a complete gap from the front to the back, joining with the gap in the gum and lip.

A cleft palate that occurs without a cleft of the lip almost always affects the back of the palate, but the amount of the rest of the palate that is affected is very variable. It can affect only part of the soft palate, the whole soft palate or the whole soft palate and part of the hard palate. There is a type of cleft that can be difficult to see. A submucous cleft palate is when the muscles of the soft palate have a gap, but the lining of the palate doesn’t have a gap, so it looks similar to a normal palate. There are often a few signs that something is wrong:

  • The uvula, or dangling bit at the very back of the palate, is often in two pieces rather than one.
  • There can be a bluish color to the soft palate.
  • You can feel a notch in the bone at the very back of the hard palate.

Most children with a submucous cleft palate have no problems from it and need no treatment, but occasionally, there can be speech problems that surgical repair can help.

Examples of these are illustrated here:

 

1) Submucous cleft palate

 

2) Cleft of the soft palate only

 

3) Cleft of the hard and soft palate

 

4) Cleft of the hard and soft palate associated with a cleft lip on one side – this is the most common type

 

5) Cleft of the hard and soft palate associated with a bilateral (both sides) cleft lip

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