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. When the sinus floor is low and very thin, it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone. Dental implants need to be placed in strong healthy 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 due to a missing tooth, 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 upper jaw bone where the teeth used to be. This new grafted bone enables implants to be placed in areas where they previously could not.
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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 teeth due to a birth defect or other congenital condition
- are missing most of the maxillary teeth and require support for dental implants
How is this procedure Accomplished?
Most commonly, a small incision is made in the premolar or molar region to expose the jaw bone. A small opening is made in 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 another source. Sometimes, synthetic materials that imitate bone are used. After the bone is grafted into the site, 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 implant(s) can be inserted and stabilized in the newly formed 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 there is not enough bone available, the sinus augmentation will have to be performed first. The graft will then have to mature/heal for 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 who previously had no other option other than wearing loose dentures.
A sinus augmentation procedure is generally performed at Dr. Maiorino‘s office, either under local anesthesia or intravenous sedation depending on the patients preference.