Cleft Palate Alveolus (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:
1. Close the 'hole' between the nose and the mouth
2. Connect or ' bridge' the segments of the upper jaw
3. Support the adjacent teeth that arepresent
4. Support the developing teeth
5. Support speech development
6. Support the base of the nose
About the Surgery
There are 3 time periods when we may consider bone grafting the alveolus:
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. We may graft earlier in a select number of infants before thair first birthday. We bone graft later in young adulthood (typically after age 17) to support dental implants for missing teeth (lateral incisor). Our preference is to use the child's own bone (autogenous bone graft).. The exception is when a bone graft is needed for dental implants. At this age we may use donated bone (allograft) instead of the patient's own bone.