Sinus Lift

What is a Sinus Lift?

The maxillary sinus is the name of hollow ( air filled ) space in the upper jaw above your back teeth. Sometimes the roots of the natural upper back teeth extend up into the maxillary sinus. When the upper teeth are removed, there is often just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. Dental implants need adequate 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 jawbone to which the implant will be housed. If bone loss in the floor of the sinus has occurred due to shrinkage following extraction,or periodontal disease, augmentation can raise the sinus lining and allow for new bone formation. A sinus lift ( augmentation of the bone in the sinus floor) is one of the most common bone grafting procedures for patients with bone loss in the upper jaw. The procedure grows bone inside the upper jaw creating a nice bed in which to place  the 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.

How is this Oral Surgery Accomplished?

In the most common sinus augmentation procedure, a small incision is made in the gum above where the molar teeth used to be. A small opening is made in the bone, and the membrane lining the sinus is gently lifted. The underlying space is filled with bone grafting material, usually freeze dried human bone from a tissue bank. Often we will mix this material with a growth factor concentrate which we will make from your own blood. Rarely, synthetic mineral materials that  can support bone formation are used. After the graft material is placed, the incision is sutured and the healing process begins. Using your own growth factor concentrate doubles the speed of healing. After about five months of healing, the bone is healed well enough that  dental implants can be fitted.

If the bone shrinkage is not too severe and there is enough  available bone to stabilize the implant well, sinus augmentation and implant placement can sometimes be performed in a single procedure. If not enough bone is available, the sinus augmentation will have to be performed first, wait for the graft to mature for several months, then the implants can be placed.
The sinus graft makes it possible for many patients to have dental implants when years ago there was no other option besides wearing loose dentures.

Sinus augmentation is often performed at the hospital under anesthesia. However, some patients may choose to have this done in the office.