Cleft Lip & Palate Guide

Cleft Lip and Palate: Glossary

Some of these terms are used on our Web site. You may hear others used by your craniofacial team at Children's.

Acoustic Nerve: a nerve in the inner ear that sends sound information to the brain.

Alveolar Ridge: the bony ridge where the teeth are held in the jaw.

Anterior: the front side.

Antibiotics: medicines to prevent or treat infections.

Articulation: the ability to use the mouth to make speech.

Audiologist: a person who studies sound and hearing.

Audiology: the study of sounds and hearing.

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): a test that measures the response of the brainstem to sound.

Bilateral Cleft: a cleft on both sides of a lip or palate.

Bilateral Myringotomy: a surgery to implant tubes through the ear drum to allow fluid to drain from an ear infection.

Bone Graft: a surgery to insert bone into the area of a cleft lip or palate.

Brainstem: the base of the brain.

Chromosome: a part of a cell that carries genes and other information related to genetic inheritance.

Cleft: a split or separation.

Cleft Lip: a congenital split in the upper lip.

Cleft Palate: a congenital split in the roof of the mouth.

Columella: the front part of the tissue between the nostrils.

Conductive Hearing Loss: a hearing loss caused by a problem in the middle or outer ear. Common causes include fluid in the middle ear or wax blocking the ear canal. Conductive hearing losses can usually be corrected with medicine or surgery.

Congenital: an adjective meaning “born with.”

Craniofacial: relating to the skull (cranio) and face (facial).

Craniofacial Surgeon: a surgeon who specializes on the skull and facial bones.

Craniofacial Team: a group of medical professionals who play diverse roles in the treatment of people with craniofacial anomalies.

Cuspid Teeth: the pointed “canine” teeth on either side of the front teeth.

Dietitian: a person who plans healthy diets for people.

ENT: an ear, nose and throat doctor.

Electrodes: soft pads that stick to parts of the body during some tests. Covered wires connect the electrodes to machines. Electrodes will not hurt or shock your child.

Enamel: the outer layer of a tooth.

Eustachian Tube: a tube that runs from the middle ear to the back of the throat. It allows air pressure on both sides of the ear drum to stay equal.

Fistula: an abnormal opening or gap.

Functional: an adjective meaning “working properly.”

Genetic Counseling: a study to determine issues of genetic inheritance. It includes physical exams, family histories, X-rays and chromosome testing.

Genetic Inheritance: the natural process by which children “inherit” their features from their parents.

Geneticist: a doctor who studies genetics (the study of genes).

Genetics: the study of genes and genetic inheritance.

Gestation: the amount of time a baby spends growing in the womb.

Hard Palate: the bony part of the roof of the mouth just behind the teeth.

Hypernasality: a speech problem in which a person's voice sounds too nasal. It is often caused by an opening in (or behind) the palate that lets sound move through the nose.

Hyponasality: a speech problem in which a person has trouble producing nasal sounds because the voice sounds cannot move into the nose.

IV: a tube in a vein that allows food, fluids and medicines to be passed directly into the bloodstream.

Inner Ear: the innermost part of the ear where sound information is sent to the brain through the acoustic nerve.

Larynx: the area of the throat containing the vocal folds.

Malocclusion: a poor alignment of the upper and lower teeth.

Mandible: the lower jaw bone.

Maxilla: the upper jaw bone.

Middle Ear: the eardrum and the space just behind it.

Mixed Hearing Loss: a hearing loss that is partly conductive and partly sensorineural.

Multifactorial Inheritance: a type of genetic inheritance in which a feature appears as a result of a number of genetic and non-genetic factors.

Nasal: related to the nose.

Nasal Air Escape: The escape of air through the nose during the pronunciation of consonants.

Nasal Ala: the part of the nostril that joins the cheek.

Nasal Regurgitation: the escape of food through the nostrils during feedings.

Nasal Septum: the wall of tissue that divides the nostrils.

Nasal Tip Reconstruction: surgical repair of the end of the nose.

Nasendoscopy: a test that uses a small camera to record how the soft palate is working.

Obturator: a device that fits in the roof of the mouth to cover a cleft palate opening.

Occlusion: the way the upper and lower teeth fit together.

Occupational Therapist: a person who helps people with daily care activities like feeding and bathing.

Oral Hygiene: care and regular cleaning of the teeth and mouth.

Orthodontist: a dentist who uses braces and other devices to correct problems with teeth and jaws.

Otitis Media: a middle ear infection.

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs): a test that records how the inner ear responds to sound.

Otolaryngologist: an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT).

Outer Ear: the part of the ear you can see and the ear canal.

Palate: the roof of the mouth.

Pediatric Dentist: a dentist who works on children's teeth.

Pharyngeal Flap Repair: one type of surgery to improve the function of the palate.

Pharynx: the throat.

Plastic Surgeon: a doctor who repairs the function and/or appearance of parts of the body.

Pre-Maxilla: the center of the bony ridge that holds the upper teeth.

Pressure Equalization (PE) Tubes: tubes that are inserted through the eardrum to allow fluid to drain from the middle ear.

Primary Teeth: baby teeth. There are 20.

Prolabium: the central part of the upper lip between the mouth and the nose.

Prosthesis: a man-made replacement for a body part.

Prosthodontist: a dentist who makes and fits false teeth and other oral appliances.

Psychologist: a person with special training to help people with emotional or behavioral concerns.

Pulse Oximeter: a wire that attaches to a person's finger and measures the oxygen in the blood.

Secondary Teeth: adult teeth. There are normally 32.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss: a hearing loss caused by a problem in the inner ear or the acoustic nerve. Common causes include genetic inheritance, aging, and constant loud noise. Sensorineural hearing losses usually cannot be repaired.

Single Gene Inheritance: a type of genetic inheritance in which a feature appears as a result of a single gene carried by one parent.

Social Worker: a person who provides counseling and resources to people.

Soft Palate: the movable part of the roof of the mouth behind the hard palate. It is critical for speech.

Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP): a clinician who evaluates speech and helps people improve their speech.

Speech Therapy: treatment given by a speech therapist to help people with speech problems improve their speech. Speech therapy often involves practicing certain speech sounds and patterns.

Sphincter Pharyngoplasty: one type of surgery to improve the function of the palate which places additional muscle on the back wall of the throat.

Supernumerary Tooth: an extra tooth.

Sutures: surgical stitches.

Syndrome: a group of congenital problems that appear together in newborn babies. Syndromes may be the result of single gene or multifactorial inheritance.

Tympanic Membrane: the eardrum.

Tympanometry: a test that measures pressure in the middle ear and how the eardrum reacts to pressure changes. It can also find holes in the eardrum and show if PE tubes are working properly.

Unilateral Cleft: a cleft on one side of the lip or face.