What is a Sinus Lift?
The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper teeth. These sinuses are empty, air-filled spaces. Some of the roots of the natural 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 jawbone to which the implant will be attached. If bone loss has occurred due to injury or periodontal disease, 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. By strengthening and growing bone in this location, dental implants can be placed and secured in the new bone growth.
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 jaw.
- are missing a significant amount of bone in the back of your jaw.
- are missing teeth due to a birth defect or condition.
- are missing most of the maxillary teeth, but require support for dental implants.
How is this Oral Surgery Accomplished?
In the most common sinus augmentation procedure, a small incision is made in the premolar or molar region to expose the upper jawbone (maxilla). A small opening is created into the bone, and the membrane lining the sinus is pushed upward. The underlying space is filled with bone grafting material. After the bone is implanted, the incision is stitched up and the healing process begins. After 5-6 months of healing, the bone becomes incorporated into the patient’s jaw and will be ready for dental implants to be inserted and stabilized in this new sinus bone.
In some cases, bone loss occurs to such a degree that an implant can not successfully be placed with the aid of a bone graft, but if there is minimally 4-5mm of existing bone at the bottom of the sinus it may be possible to place the bone graft and implant during the same procedure; this is called a “sinus bump”. During a sinus bump procedure, the site of the missing tooth is prepared for the dental implant. When the floor of the sinus is encountered during the preparation, it is carefully elevated up and bone graft material is placed into the site. The dental implant is then placed into the site and further aids in pushing the bone graft material into the proper position. The benefit of a sinus bump procedure as compared to a sinus lift is that it is less invasive and the implant can be placed during the same procedure.
A sinus augmentation is generally performed at Dr. Spanganberg’s office, under intravenous sedation.