What Is the Purpose of a Sinus Lift?
A sinus lift, also referred to as a sinus augmentation, is performed by an oral surgeon to add bone mass to the upper portion of your jaw. This procedure is often necessary for patients who have decided on dental implants, but do not have enough bone mass in the jaw above the molars and premolars to support an implant.
What makes the sinus lift so revolutionary is that it makes it possible for many patients to have dental implants, when they previously had no other choice besides tolerating loose dentures.
Why Do I Need A Sinus Lift?
Located immediately behind your cheeks and above your upper teeth are the maxillary sinuses – which are basically vacant air-filled spaces. Some of your upper teeth’s roots reach up into the maxillary sinuses, and when these teeth are removed, often just a shallow wall of bone is left behind. Because dental implants need bone to keep them in place, when that wall is not substantial enough, it is virtually impossible to insert implants securely.
A successful, long-lasting dental implant hinges on the quality and quantity of jaw bone to which it will be attached. In the event of bone loss due to trauma and/or periodontal disease, a sinus lift raises the sinus floor and allows for new bone development. One of the most common bone grafting procedures for dental patients, the sinus lift bone graft procedure aims to grow bone in the floor of the sinus, enabling dental implants to be anchored in this new bone growth.
Who Is a Candidate for a Sinus Lift?
We may suggest a sinus lift if you:
- Are missing a single tooth in the back of your jaw
- Are missing multiple teeth in the back of your jaw
- Are missing substantial bone mass in the back of your jaw
- Are missing teeth due to a congenital defect or condition
- Are missing most of the maxillary teeth, and thus need support for dental implants
What is the Sinus Lift Procedure Like?
In most cases, a tiny incision is made on the premolar/molar region to reveal the jaw bone. Another small opening is made into the sinus, and the tissue lining of the sinus is gently elevated; the space below is filled with bone grafting material. The material derives from your own body or from other sources, like synthetic materials that mimic bone formation.
After the bone is implanted, the incision is closed and healing begins. After several months of rest, the bone becomes a permanent part of the patient’s jaw, and implants can be inserted and stabilized in the newly-formed bone.
In the event that adequate bone is available to stabilize the implant, sinus augmentations and implant placement can sometimes be executed as a single procedure. If the bone is insufficient, the sinus lift bone graft will have to be performed first, and then the graft must mature for up to several months, depending upon the component used. Once that time has passed, the implants can be inserted.
Sinus lift surgery is generally performed under intravenous anesthesia; however, some patients may request local anesthesia or oral sedatives.
What Should I Expect After a Sinus Lift?
You may have some minor swelling of the area after the procedure. We recommend refraining from blowing your nose and to attempt to sneeze with your mouth open, to prevent the bone-graft material from shifting or causing a communication between your sinus and mouth.
Your dentist may give you saline sprays to moisten the inside lining of your nose, and prescribe drugs to prevent congestion and inflammation. You will also receive pain medicine, an antibiotic and an antimicrobial mouth rinse to stave off infection. The majority of patients experience only slight discomfort after a sinus augmentation.
Our team will request to see you after 2 weeks to monitor the surgical area and remove sutures if necessary. You may be asked to make a few more return visits to ensure that the site is healing well.
Following a sinus lift, you will need to wait 6 months for the bony material to harden and merge properly with your jaw. Depending on the grafting substance used, implants may be placed in six months.
What Are the Sinus Lift Risks?
The primary risk of a sinus lift is that due to the health and thickness of your sinus membrane, it could tear during elevation. In most scenarios where this occurs during the procedure, the surgeon has techniques to repair it. If the repair is unsuccessful, your surgeon may halt the procedure and allow the wound time to heal.
Your dentist can then repeat the sinus lift once the tissue has healed, usually in a few months. A healed membrane is usually stronger and thicker, increasing the success rate for a second attempt.
Other factors also affect the procedure’s success:
- Infection, albeit rare, is a risk of any surgical procedure.
- In the event that existing bone does not meld with the graft material, the grafted area will not develop a blood supply and there will be no bone to which attach the implants. If this happens, you can have the sinus lift procedure repeated.
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