Cleft lip and palate( hare lip or cut lips) are congenital anomaly and occurs in one in 700 live births. It is twice as common in boys as in girls. Cleft may be present on right or left side of the philtrum but can also occur on both sides together. Cleft of the lip may be present alone or together with the cleft of the alveolus and/ or cleft of the hard and soft palate. It can be of variable severety. It can occur as a mild minor depression or line at the phitral ridge or can be complete cleft of the lip ,alveolus and palate. Rarely ,cleft can occure at different places all arount the mouth and extend to the craniofacial skeleton. Such rare cleft may extend from lip to nose, lip to eyes , lip to ears and very rarely may be present in the lower lip. at All kinds of cleft lips and palates and other rare craniofacial clefts can be treated. Cleft lip is best operated at the age of 3-6 months, while cleft palate is best operated at the age of 9-12 months.
Cleft of the lip-It can occur on one side or on both sides of the philtrum and can be of varying severety. It can occur with the cleft of the alveolus (and palate). When the alveolus (the bone in the jaw which bears teath) is also cleft one side might project forward while other (cleft side) may collapse. There may be a narrow or wide cleft in the alveolus with or without collapse of the cleft side. When the lip is cleft ,the teeth may be deformed ,deviated, or absent. When the alveolus is cleft on both the sides it may project significantly. There may be a very minor cleft or just a line on the lip or it may be more severe and complete cleft of the lip. Nose is also usally deformed when there is a cleft of the lip. The cleft of the lip is best repaired between 3-6 months of age.
Cleft of the palate- It can also be of varying severety. There can just be a cleft of uvula or soft palate or there can be a complete cleft of the uvula,soft palate and hard palate as well. There can also be bilateral cleft of the palate . In some cases while mucosa of the cleft may be intact,the bone and muscles are cleft. This is calles -submucus cleft of the palate and can cause functional disabilities of speech.