Alveolar (Gum) Bone Graft

Just as we repair the cleft lip and the cleft palate, the cleft through the gum (alveolus) should also be repaired. We use bone to repair the gum tissue to support the teeth and use the lining to close the remaining 'hole' that communicates between the nose and the mouth.

Why Bone Graft:

  • Close the 'hole' between the nose and the mouth
  • Connect or ' bridge' the segments of the upper jaw
  • Support the teeth along the cleft margin
  • Support the developing teeth that will come through the graft (Canine)
  • Support speech development
  • Support the base of the nose

When Do We use Bone Graft

There are 3 periods when we consider bone grafting:

  • Early (6 –24months of age): In some children, we feel it is valuable to stabilize the arch segments early in development
  • Late Childhood: We like to bone graft the alveolus portion of the cleft palate before all the permanent teeth are in. Ideally, the graft should be completed before the age of 12. Typically we graft between ages 6 to 10
  • Adolescence or Adulthood: We bone graft later in young adulthood (typically after age 17) to support dental implants for missing teeth (lateral incisor)

Some children may require additional bone graft procedure depending on the circumstances.
Children born with a double or bilateral cleft lip/palate may require additional bone grafts.

Where Do We Get the Bone Graft

Our preference is to use the child's own bone (autogenous bone graft) when the child is growing.
Our preference is to use donated bone graft for dental implants needed for missing teeth.