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The South West Cleft Service

COVID-19: A message for cleft patients and their parents

The coronavirus pandemic means that all cleft operations and face-to-face cleft clinics in the United Kingdom and Ireland were delayed. We appreciate how difficult this must be for you as parents/patients.

Primary Surgery

If your baby hasn't already had his/her cleft repaired you will naturally be concerned about the impact the Covid-19 restrictions will have on this. Our operating schedule was suspended for 4 months. This, along with changes to operating and admissions systems in the future, will inevitably result in delays to your baby's surgery from our usual timings. Please be assured that, as a Team, we are very aware of the anxiety this will cause you and will do everything we can to minimise the impact of this situation where possible. If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact your usual Cleft CNS or any nurse via the Cleft Team Reception 0117 342 1177.


While we do not think that a 3-4 month delay in cleft lip or cleft palate repair will have a big effect on your child's results in their later life, babies who have their cleft palate surgery after one year of age may need more speech therapy. If you are concerned about speech at this time please click here for further information.

Additional Surgery 

Additional Surgery  includes surgery to help with speech or appearance concerns and alveolar bone grafting. We do not believe there will be any detrimental effects in terms of the outcomes of the surgery. However, we are very aware that delays to surgery may well cause significant distress.

Further information which you may find helpful can also be found here

Orthodontic/Dental care

Currently after suspension of routine dental treatment during lockdown we are resuming services with some restrictions. There will be delays to treatment appointments as a result of this. If you have any dental pain please contact your dentist, if you do not have a dentist please contact 111.

Some helpful dental advice for Children's tooth brushing has been produced by British society of paediatric dentistry.




If you or your child is undergoing brace treatment it is important to keep your mouth and appliance clean. Sugary food and fizzy drinks should be avoided. This will prevent damage to the teeth including marks on the teeth that may last forever. This is very important at this time where there might be a long wait for the next appointment. If you have any problems with your braces please contact the cleft orthodontist treating you.

There is helpful advice on British Orthodontic society website


We know that this is a difficult time and there is a lot of change. It is normal to feel scared or worried when there is so much change. It is important to look after yourself and your family during this time.

The Cleft Psychology Team have written some advice to help you manage any difficult feelings about delays to cleft treatment and surgery. Please click here for further information.

You can find additional advice on mental health and wellbeing and coronavirus at:

For advice on talking to children about coronavirus visit:

For advice on what children can understand about being sick at different ages and stages and how they can be helped to understand coronavirus, visit

Contact us

You can still contact us on the usual numbers and we will do our best to help.

South West Cleft service office: 0117 342 1177



A cleft of the lip can be on one side (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral).
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Children whose cleft does not affect the palate generally have no cleft-related speech problems.
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Many children with a cleft lip have no problems or concerns psychologically.
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Dental Care
Children with a cleft lip and/or palate seem to get tooth decay more easily than other children.
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To support you in establishing a good feeding regime that gives your baby what he or she needs and is acceptable to the family.
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Classifying Cleft
There has been a general move to adopt a simple system for classifying clefts, which is easy to use.
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