In English, we use about 46 sounds to speak. Some of these are vowel sounds like "a," "o" and "ow." Other sounds are consonant sounds like "p" and "d."
- Of these consonant sounds, three—"m," "n" and "ng"—are spoken through the nose. These are the nasal sounds.
- To make the remaining 43 sounds, the soft palate must seal off the nose and force sound out the mouth. This is important for the vowel sounds.
- For the 16 pressure consonants sounds, such as "b," "d," "p" and "t," this is vital because air pressure is needed for enunciation (clear pronunciation of words).
Children with a cleft lip and palate often develop other ways to attempt speech sounds that are hard to make. Once bad habits are learned, they are very hard to "un-learn." This is why it is important that early speech habits are learned correctly the first time.