Sinus Augmentation Procedures

What is a Sinus Lift?

The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper molar/premolars teeth. Normally 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 back teeth need to be removed, there is occasionally just a thin layer of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the oral cavity. Dental implants need bone to hold them in place. When the vertical bone height is inadequate below the sinus it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone. The key to a successful dental implant is the quality and quantity of jawbone to which the implant will be attached. A sinus augmentation procedure can raise the sinus floor and allow for new bone formation. A sinus lift is one of most common bone grafting procedures for patients with bone loss in the upper back jaw. The procedure seeks to grow bone in the floor of the maxillary sinus above the bony ridge of the gum line that anchors the teeth in the upper jaw. By strengthening and growing bone in this location, dental implant can be placed in the new bone growth.

Sinus Lift Procedure

When upper molars are lost, the length of bone needed for implant placement deteriorates over time. During this procedure, the sinus membrane is elevated and bone graft is placed under the sinus floor. This allows implants of sufficient size to be placed in the back part of the upper jaw.

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, but require support for dental implants.

How is this Oral Surgery Accomplished?

In the most common sinus augmentation procedure, a small incision is made on the premolar or molar region to expose the jawbone. A small opening is cut into the bone, and the membrane lining the sinus is pushed upward. The underlying space is filled with bone grafting material. After the bone is implanted, the incision is stitched up and the healing process begins. After several months of healing, the bone becomes part of the patient’s jaw and dental implants can be inserted and stabilized in this new sinus bone. If enough bone between the upper jaw ridge and the bottom of the sinus is available to stabilize the implant well, sinus augmentations and implant placement can sometimes be performed as a single procedure. If not enough bone is available, the sinus augmentation will have to be performed first, then the graft will have to mature 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 when years ago there was no other option besides wearing loose dentures. A sinus augmentation is generally performed at The oral surgeon’s office, under local or intravenous sedation/general anesthesia.