The sinus graft, sometimes called a sinus lift, makes it possible for many people to have dental implants when years ago there was no other option other than wearing loose dentures.
If you have missing teeth and are considering dental implants to replace them, your dentist may tell you that you do not have enough bone to support a dental implant or multiple implants and that you need a sinus lift. This may be the case especially if you have been missing teeth for an extended period of time. Over time, the jawbone associated with missing teeth atrophies or is reabsorbed. This often results in a condition in which there is poor quality and quantity of bone suitable for placement of dental implants. In the past, the patient would not be considered a candidate for placement of dental implants. But modern dentistry has changed all that. Now, we have the ability to grow bone where needed, providing opportunity to place implants of proper length and width to restore functionality and aesthetic appearance.
Dental implants need bone to hold them in place. When upper teeth are missing, there is often just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper teeth. When the sinus wall is very thin, it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone. Sinuses are like empty rooms that have nothing in them.
Sinus bone grafts replace bone in the posterior upper jaw. During the procedure, the dentist enters the sinus from the area of the missing teeth. The sinus membrane is then lifted upward and donor bone is inserted into the floor of the sinus, which is also the roof of the upper jaw. The integrity of the sinus membrane lining is not violated during the procedure. 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 there is enough bone between the upper jaw ridge and the bottom of the sinus to stabilize the implant well, sinus augmentations and implant placement can sometimes be performed as a single procedure. If there is not enough bone (less than five millimeters or soft bone in the area), it is difficult to stabilize the implants and ensure their stability during the period required for graft consolidation. In such instances, the sinus augmentation will have to be performed, the graft will have to mature for several months, depending upon the type of graft material used. Once the graft has matured, implants can be placed.
If your dentist has recommended sinus grafting or a sinus lift, know that these procedures can be performed very comfortably in an outpatient setting with either local anesthesia or sedation. In addition, you need not fear that this will have an adverse effect on your sinuses or produce chronic sinus pain.