The most common craniofacial malformations, comprising 65 % of all craniofacial anomalies, are clefts of the lip and palate. These are common (with an incidence of approximately 1 : 500 to 1 : 1000 live births) and differ from the remaining malformations. Clefts of lip and palate do not involve the skull, facial bones or brain as other malformations do (however, some other craniofacial anomalies include clefts of lip and palate). Given these differences, the management and treatment for clefts of lip and palate differs from that of other craniofacial malformations and we discuss these conditions separately.
Other craniofacial anomalies are usually one of several, sometimes the only, expression, of a multitude of rare congenital (inherited and sporadic) conditions. The severity of the various conditions ranges from very mild cases (with hardly any, or no, need of treatment) across the spectrum to life-threatening conditions in need of immediate surgical intervention(s) at birth.
The management and treatment of clefts of lip and palate is a long-term undertaking where the surgical arm (mainly in collaboration with orthodontics (taking care of dentition) and possibly facial soft tissue surgery) is firmly in the oral and maxillofacial area of expertise. In contrast, the management and treatment of most of the other craniofacial anomalies requires a broader multidisciplinary approach with specialist paediatricians, neurosurgeons and other clinical disciplines involved, and oral and maxillofacial surgery being part of such a team approach.
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