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 jaw bone 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. This enables dental implants to be placed and secured in the new bone growth.
How Do You Prepare for a Sinus Lift?
Sinus lift can be performed either awake or asleep depending on the extent of the planned surgery as well as patient preference. If you are having IV anesthesia the patient must fast (no food/drink/water) for 6 hours prior to surgery. After the surgery you will eat softer foods for a period of time so stocking your kitchen with soft foods such as soups, pudding, yogurt, eggs, fish, soft pasta and of course ice cream is advisable.
Why is a Sinus Lift Performed?
Sinus lift is performed in order to grow bone in the back portions of the upper jaw when insufficient bone is present for placement of dental implants.
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 and require support for dental implants
What is the Follow Up Like for a Sinus Lift?
Sinus lift surgery usually causes only mild to moderate postoperative pain and swelling. In most cases chewing in the area of the bone graft will be altered for a period of time postoperatively to ensure proper healing. Normal yet careful oral hygiene should be maintained, especially on the teeth adjacent to the surgical site. Additionally nose blowing and sneezing will be altered for several weeks after the surgery to protect the graft from trauma.
Follow Up at one week postop is common. Depending on the extent of grafting performed, final healing is usually complete at 3-6 months, at which time a CT scan will be taken to evaluate the healing and the new volume of bone.
What are the Potential Risks for a Sinus Lift?
General surgical risks are pain, infection, swelling and bleeding. Sinus issues are possible but very rare. With bone grafting there is also the risk of the graft failing to be converted into living bone, either partially or completely.
How is this procedure Accomplished?
Most commonly, a small incision is made on the premolar or molar region to expose the jaw bone. A small opening is cut into the bone, and the membrane lining the sinus is pushed upward. The underlying space is filled with bone grafting material, either from your own body or from a other sources. Sometimes, synthetic materials that imitate bone formation are used. After the bone is implanted, the incision is sutured and the healing process begins. After several months of healing, the bone becomes part of the patient’s jaw and dental implants can be inserted and stabilized in the newly formed sinus bone.
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 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 several months, depending upon the type of graft material used. Once the graft has matured, the implants can be placed.
The sinus graft makes it possible for many patients to have dental implants that previously had no other option besides wearing loose dentures.
A sinus augmentation is generally performed at Dr. Hershkin‘s office, under local anesthesia. Some patients may request oral or intravenous sedative medication as well.