An essential overview of orofacial clefting

Br Dent J. 2023 Jun;234(12):937-942. doi: 10.1038/s41415-023-6000-9. Epub 2023 Jun 23.


An appreciation of the embryologic development of the face is essential to understanding the anatomic variation observed in this phenotypically broad condition. Embryologically, the nose, lip and palate are separated into the primary and secondary palate, which are divided anatomically by the incisive foramen. The epidemiology of orofacial clefting is reviewed together with the contemporaneous cleft classification systems that enable comparisons to be made between international centres for audit and research purposes. A detailed examination of the clinical anatomy of the lip and palate informs the surgical priorities for the primary reconstruction of both form and function. The pathophysiology of the submucous cleft palate is also explored. The seismic impact of the 1998 Clinical Standards Advisory Group report on the organisation of UK cleft care provision is outlined. The importance of the Cleft Registry and Audit Network database in auditing UK cleft outcomes is highlighted. The potential for the Cleft Collective study to establish the causes of clefting, the optimal treatment protocols, and the impact of cleft on patients is tremendously exciting for all health care professionals involved in the management of this challenging congenital deformity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cleft Lip* / epidemiology
  • Cleft Lip* / surgery
  • Cleft Palate* / complications
  • Humans