What is a Sinus Lift?
The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper back teeth. These sinuses are empty, air-filled spaces. Some of the roots of the upper teeth extend up into the maxillary sinuses. When these upper teeth are removed there is often just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. Dental implants need bone to hold them in place. When the sinus wall is very thin, it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone.
The key to a successful and long-lasting dental implant is the quality and quantity of jaw bone to which the implant will be placed. If bone loss has occurred, a sinus augmentation can raise the sinus floor and allow for new bone formation. A sinus lift is one of the most common bone grafting procedures for patients with bone loss in the upper jaw. The procedure seeks to grow bone in the floor of the maxillary sinus above the bony ridge of the gum line that anchors the teeth in the upper jaw. This enables dental implants to be placed and secured in the new bone.
Am I a Candidate for a Sinus Lift Procedure?
A sinus lift may be necessary if you:
- are missing more than one tooth in the back of your upper jaw
- are missing a significant amount of bone in the back of your upper jaw
- are missing most of the upper teeth and require support for dental implants
How is this procedure Accomplished?
Most commonly, a small incision is made on the posterior region to expose the jaw bone. A small opening is made in the bone, and the membrane lining the sinus is elevated upward. The underlying space is filled with bone grafting material. After the bone graft is placed, the incision is sutured and the healing process begins. After four to six months of healing, the bone becomes part of the patient’s jaw.
If enough bone between the upper jaw ridge and the bottom of the sinus is available to sufficiently stabilize the implant, sinus augmentations and implant placement can sometimes be performed together as a single procedure. If not enough bone is available, the sinus augmentation will have to be performed first, then the graft will have to mature for up to four to six months. Once the graft has matured, the implants can be placed.
The sinus graft makes dental implants possible for many patients who previously had no other option besides wearing loose dentures.
A sinus augmentation is generally performed in the office, under local anesthesia and IV sedation.