What is a sinus lift?
The maxillary sinuses lie behind your cheeks and above the upper teeth. These 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, often only a thin wall of bone may separate the maxillary sinus and the mouth. The sinus wall may be too thin to enable placement of dental implants.
If such bone loss has occurred due to injury or periodontal disease, a sinus augmentation can raise the sinus floor and allow for new bone formation. This procedure, also known as a sinus lift, is one of the most common types of bone grafting done in the upper jaw. By strengthening and growing bone in the floor of the maxillary sinus, above the bony ridge of the gum line that anchors the teeth in the upper jaw, dental implants can be placed and adequately secured.
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 congenital condition.
- are missing most of the maxillary teeth, but require support for dental implants.
How is this oral surgery accomplished?
Most commonly, a small opening is cut into the rear section of the upper jaw, and the membrane lining the sinus is pushed upward. The space thus created is filled with bone-grafting material. The access point is then closed and stitched up, and the healing process begins. After several months, the bone-graft material becomes part of the jaw and dental implants can be inserted and stabilized.
Alternatively, if enough bone is present initially to stabilize the implant, sinus augmentation and implant placement can sometimes be done simultaneously. In either case, the sinus graft makes it possible for dental implants to be successfully placed in patients who once had no option but to wear dentures.
A sinus augmentation is generally performed in the MVOMS office under local anesthesia. Some patients also may request oral or intravenous sedative medication as well.