Are you familiar with cleft lip? It is a birth defect that produces a split upper lip. It can also manifest in the palate (the roof of the mouth). The condition occurs in the second or third month of pregnancy, when the infant’s oral tissue does not fuse properly. July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month, and provides an opportunity for oral surgeons to raise awareness of these conditions, which affect roughly 7,000* infants each year. For those born with cleft lip and cleft palate in Salinas, CA, there are many obstacles without treatment.

How Do These Conditions Present Problems for Children?

  • Difficulty eating 
  • Increased incidence of ear infections
  • Speech problems
  • Misaligned or misshapen teeth
  • Potential for emotional or self esteem issues


Can Cleft Lip and Palate Be Treated?

Both of these conditions may be corrected by oral surgery, or a series of surgeries, depending upon the extent of the defect. An oral surgeon will typically begin the treatment for cleft lip when a child is less than 12 weeks old. Surgery for cleft palate in Salinas, CA, is not performed as early as the palate may change with time. So treatment is performed late enough to see any improvements but early enough not to interfere with the development of speech, ideally between nine months to one year old. Surgery is performed in a hospital, with anesthetic to prevent discomfort. Tissue around the cleft is trimmed and sutured together in a manner that minimizes scarring and provides a natural looking result.

For more information about cleft lip and palate, contact our office to schedule a consultation with skilled oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Herrerra. He can discuss your options to repair these common birth defects with surgery and help you to improve the health and quality of life for your child.