Dental implants are becoming more advanced and efficient each year, serving as an exceptional option for tooth restoration. Unfortunately, some areas of the mouth offer inadequate space to place an implant or bone graft accurately. If a patient requires a molar or premolar tooth restoration on the upper back portion of the jaw, the sinuses can pose a significant problem when it comes to placement.
A sinus lift is a complicated procedure perfect for addressing the challenge of inadequate room. By adjusting the location of the sinuses, your dentist can stimulate new bone growth to stabilize a dental implant successfully, resulting in a newly restored, and fully functional smile.
Purpose of Sinus Lift
When we initially refer to our sinuses, we often think of sinus headaches or the pounding pressure experienced under the eyes. But sinuses are located behind the cheeks and directly above the teeth in our upper jaw. Sinuses (also called maxillary sinuses) are empty spaces filled with air. In some patients, the roots of the upper teeth will extend into the sinus cavities, leaving little bone bordering between.
If the teeth in the upper jaw near the sinuses are lost or removed, there may only be a thin layer of jawbone available for your dental provider to work with. Dental implants require enough bone to fuse around the titanium screw to successfully hold. Bone grafts assist in creating new bone, but also need enough room for the new bone to expand- this is where the sinus lift comes in!
By surgically lifting the sinuses, adequate room is created in the upper jaw for a bone graft to be placed. The bone graft stimulates enough bone growth to hold the implant, resulting in an adequate space for a dental implant to be appropriately set.
Reasons For Needing A Sinus Lift
Not all patients who have lost teeth in the upper jaw are going to require a sinus lift. Sinus lifts are needed in cases of lost molars or premolar teeth located directly underneath the sinus pockets. If you are a patient who is experiencing any of the following situations, your dentist may suggest a sinus lift for future mouth reconstruction purposes: missing one or more teeth in the upper back portion of your jaw missing multiple teeth due to a genetic condition or congenital disability losing the majority of the upper molar or premolars and are interested in implant replacements missing bone in the back jaw for various reasons (little bone to start, disease, deterioration, etc.)
Sinus Lift Process
When your dentist determines a sinus lift is necessary for your mouth reconstruction, an appointment will be made for the procedure in either hospital or outpatient surgical center. Local anesthesia is commonly suggested for this type of treatment, but patients may also request intravenous (IV) or oral sedation techniques if preferred.
A small incision is made in the bone above the missing tooth in the upper jaw at the beginning of the procedure. This opening allows for the dentist to access the sinus pocket, gently lifting the membrane upwards to create space where the bone grafting material will fill. The material used for your bone graft will be decided before the procedure. Options for bone grafting materials include natural bone (from patients body), allogenic (bone from human cadaver), xenogeneic (bone from animal cadavers), or synthetic bone composed of protein-based materials.
Once the bone grafting material has filled the opening made, a membrane is placed on the incision made in the bone to protect the area from infection. The membrane is then sutured in place and allowed time to heal. During the recovery process, the bone grafting material will solidify into bone or a bone-like structure that will be capable of sustaining a dental implant in the future.
Recovery Time for Sinus Lift
It will take some time for the bone grafting material to mature enough for a dental implant to be placed. Your dentist will evaluate your progress as times goes on, but typically it will take a few months before the next step in the restoration process can take place.
Similar to traditional bone grafts, there will be some restrictions regarding the area that is essential to follow for the bone graft to heal properly.
Some of the most common limitations are:
- Do not blow your nose for at least four weeks
- No drinking through straws
- Avoid activities that can apply pressure to the sinuses (flying, swimming)
- Avoiding applications of force to the wound from the tongue or fingers
- Do not perform a rinsing or spitting motion with your mouth for a few days (can affect the bone graft and blood clotting stabilization)
- Do not bite down on wound with food or objects
- Refrain from smoking during the healing process
- Avoid pulling the lip and up near the wound as the force can tear stitches
The list of restrictions for the procedure may cause some patients to shy away from his treatment. However, advancements in technology have allowed for dentists to replace teeth in areas only dentures were used before. By restoring your molar and premolar teeth, your mouth will be able to function as it did with
Evaluation For a Sinus Lift
During a consultation appointment with your dental provider, your mouth with be fully examined and evaluated for the sinus lift procedure. Depending on the reason for your missing teeth, it may be necessary to perform additional dental procedures before performing the sinus lift. Patients who have lost teeth due to decay or disease will need an evaluation to ensure there is no active infection of the surrounding teeth and bone, as this can affect the integrity of the bone graft. If you have had serious concerns with your sinuses in the past, it may be appropriate to visit an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT) to rule out any issues that could worsen due to a sinus lift.
Sinus lifts are life changing procures for individuals who never believed they would normally chew with back teeth again. Though the procedure is complex, the results are impeccable, resulting in more healthier functioning smiles than ever before.