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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 13 months 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 and here for further information for adults whose treatment has been affected. Click here for parents of children whose treatment has been affected.

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

Coming to an appointment with the Cleft Team at Bristol Dental Hospital

Please follow the information here  for advice on coming to the hospital. The staff you meet will be wearing personal protection equipment (PPE). If you are bringing a child or person who may find this difficult you could show them this picture to help them know what to expect.


SW Cleft - PPE

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 lip and/or palate is surgically repaired when the child is a baby. Sometimes more surgery is required and all options are considered with families on a case by case basis.
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Speech and language therapists are available to support children and adults to develop good speech habits and to produce clear speech sounds
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The Cleft Clinical Psychology Service provides emotional and psychological support to patients who were born with a cleft lip and/or palate, and their families.
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Dental Care
Children with a cleft lip and/or palate seem to get tooth decay more easily than other children. The Cleft Dental service can provide advice and treatment.
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The Cleft Clinical Nurse Specialist may well be your first contact with our team. It may be found on your 20 week anomaly scan that your baby has a cleft lip or a palate cleft is often detected soon after a baby is born. We will signpost you to written and online information as well as provide an information pack devised by our team and specific to your baby’s type of cleft.
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Information for professionals
There has been a general move to adopt a simple system for classifying clefts, which is easy to use.
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