Many children with cleft lip and cleft palate also have a cleft in the bone of the upper jaw that holds the teeth. This bone is called the alveolus (al-vee-OH-liss).
An alveolar bone graft is a surgery to fill the gap in that bone. Your child will probably need orthodontic treatment for several months to prepare for surgery.
During an alveolar bone graft, the surgeon opens the gum tissue to show the gap in the bone. Bone marrow taken from inside the hip bone is put into the gap. Next, the surgeon puts gum tissue back over the bone marrow and stitches it closed. The cut in the hip is also stitched closed.
After surgery, the bone marrow in the upper jaw will become hard and strong bone. The bone marrow that was taken from the hip will grow back. This happens within about 6 weeks.
This surgery is done when your child is 6 to 9 years. Most often, surgery takes 2 hours. Your child will stay in the hospital 1 to 2 days.