Naturally, our upper molar roots usually sit close to our sinuses. After an upper molar is extracted, bone in that area can shrink, which allows the sinus to slowly start to fill that space. Although filling that space with an implant is the best way to prevent further bone loss and restore your full bite, the sinus might get in the way of placing the implant, which is why your implant surgeon may discuss the need for a procedure called sinus lift augmentation.
WHAT IS A SINUS LIFT?
A sinus lift is a procedure that safely repositions your sinus membrane so that bone graft material can be placed, which will increase bone height and support an implant securely. When the implant site is too close to the sinus floor, this procedure raises the floor and adds the graft, making sufficient room for the implant.
WHEN IS A SINUS LIFT NEEDED?
Like a tooth root, implants need a certain amount of bone to support them. When patients have lost teeth in the upper jaw, the sinus often expands as the bone shrinks in that area, which would require a sinus lift to have dental implants placed. Patients who have had a history of periodontal disease, previous cancer treatment, or jaw trauma may also have less bone than is needed.
With insufficient bone to securely place the dental implant, the sinus lift procedure becomes necessary when there is not enough bone height where your molars and premolars are to be able to place a solidly supported implant.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A SINUS LIFT?
The sinus lift augmentation creates more bone support. This increase in bone will compensate for bone loss and will allow for multiple implants to be placed. Without this procedure, many patients will not qualify for dental implants.
A sinus lift allows patients who have enlarged sinuses or even a small jaw to be able to get upper molar implants. For patients who have had extensive bone loss in their upper molar region due to periodontal disease, a sinus lift augmentation can provide the adequate amount of bone needed to support an implant.
WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE?
For the sinus lift procedure, your implant surgeon makes an incision in the gums and exposes the jawbone. This allows them to access the sinus area and gently nudge the sinus upwards. Once the sinus is lifted out of the way of the desired implant space, your surgeon packs the area with bone graft material and stitches the gums closed.
For this procedure, you may choose which type of anesthesia/sedation works best for you by discussing anesthesia options with your implant surgeon at your consultation. Typically, the procedure lasts around 90 minutes to 2 hours.
WHAT IS THE RECOVERY LIKE?
Immediately after the procedure, you will leave with post-operative instructions that include what foods you can eat and how to care for the first two weeks. Any discomfort can be managed by following your post-op instructions and taking prescribed medication. After about two weeks, you will return for an appointment to remove the sutures and check the area, after which, you should be able to resume more normal home care.
Allowing for the appropriate time to bone growth is essential for successful bone growth, which is why about 6 months is needed to heal completely from the sinus lift before dental implants can be placed.