Our sinuses are very sensitive areas. When it comes to needing dental implants or other various dental work, the sinuses are at times too close to the area of the jaw, requiring a sinus lift to be needed in order to proceed with implants and other procedures.
What Is a Sinus Lift?
Maxillary sinuses are located right above your upper teeth, sometimes so closely that the roots of your teeth extend into the sinus area. At best, removal of the upper teeth leaves a very thin wall of bone between the sinus and the teeth or mouth. Dental implants require bone to hold them in place so it is important to have the proper sinus separation and support for the implants.
A sinus lift is a bone grafting procedure that is common for patients that have any bone loss in their upper jaw area. The purpose of the procedure is to generate bone growth separating the maxillary sinus from the gum line and providing an appropriate anchor for dental implants in the new bone growth.
Having the appropriate sinus/tooth separation could make a significant difference in the success of dental implants and improving the longevity. The procedure is referred to as a sinus lift because, to make room for the grafting, the sinus membrane must be moved upward. This procedure is also commonly known as sinus augmentation.
Who Should Consider a Sinus Lift?
Not everyone getting dental implants is required to have a sinus lift for them to work appropriately. The need for a sinus lift varies by individual and can be based on the location of the sinuses, the barrier between the jaw and sinuses, or bone loss near the sinuses. Here are some common reasons that you may need a sinus lift.
- If you are missing teeth in your rear jaw area, specifically on the top
- If the bone in the back of your jaw has deteriorated or you have minimal bone to work with in the area
- If you are missing multiple teeth related to a health condition or birth defect
- If you need extra maxillary support for dental implants
How Does the Procedure Work?
A sinus lift involved cutting into a small area of the jawbone and pushing the sinus membrane upward. Typically, this is done through a small incision in the molar area. Once the membrane has been lifted, a bone grafting material is inserted into the area.
The bone grafting material used may be a synthetic bone graft material or one of the various types of bone grafts available. Once the grafting material is in place, the incision is sutured and you must allow the area to heal before proceeding further with implants.
It could take several months for the bone-implant placed during the sinus lift to become part of your jaw, but once it has stabilized and new bone has formed in the sinus area, dental implants can be inserted.
Not every patient needs a sinus lift to receive dental implants, but the sinus lift allows an option for those who may not otherwise be able to utilize dental implants because the bone won’t support them.