Everything About Cleft

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The Different Types of Cleft

0A cleft can be a gap on one side (unilateral) or two gaps (bilateral). A cleft palate occurs where the cleft is in the roof of the mouth creating an opening into the nasal cavity. A cleft can be of the soft palate at the far back of the mouth, involve a missing or split in the uvula. Hard palate clefts involve the bony part of the roof of the mouth.

A cleft of the hard palate may be a split from the front or back toward the centre, or more rounded. Cleft lip may extend from the lip backwards into the mouth and affect the alveolar ridge where teeth belong later and into the hard palate. There are many combinations of cleft lip and cleft palate. A cleft which is completely on the inside of the mouth is very difficult to detect on ultrasound.

To the casual observer there is often nothing about the child’s outward appearance that would suggest a cleft palate. Children with a cleft lip experience quite an amazing transformation from their appearance as a newborn to when the first surgery occurs usually at 3-6 months of age.

Cleft Feeding Advice

Getting Ready
Feeding a cleft baby
Extra Encouragement

Cleft Treatment Phases

Lip Repair
Palate Repair
Bone Graft

Cleft Treatment Timeline

Age Chart

Your Cleft Clinic

A Cleft Clinic is where all consultants and surgeons you’ll be working with, will be in one room to talk about the treatment plan for your child, which allows all the surgeons to talk to you about what is needed, and work together to give the very best outcome for your child.

Find your State Cleft Clinic


Your Cleft Specialists

Plastic Surgeon
Ears Nose & Throat Specialist
Orthodontist and/or Dentist
Speech Pathologist

Government Cleft Incentives

To assist affected families, the Australian Government issues incentives and concessions to help cleft affected families. However, certain conditions apply, which outlines that the patient must:

  • Be enrolled in Medicare
  • Before turning 22 years of age, be certified by a health professional as having a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or other eligible conditions
  • Have started treatment by an approved health professional before turning 22, and
  • Be under the age of 28 when receiving treatment

You can also apply for a health care card under the carers allowance. Apply as a carer, and while you will likely be told that you were unsuccessful in getting payments, your cleft child will still receive a health care card. However, you will need to get your GP to fill in part of the form. Click here for more information on the health care card.

For more information on the incentive scheme and what entitlements are granted, visit the Australian Government information page.