Patients who have lost teeth in the upper premolar or molar areas of the jaw often require a sinus lift, or sinus augmentation, in order to have dental implants placed. This can be due to circumstances in which the bone in the area where teeth are missing naturally beings to shrink or resorb over time, the roots of the teeth were originally positioned either very close to or within the sinus cavity, or the vertical height of the bone is not sufficient enough to support an implant. As a result of bone loss, the sinuses can expand to occupy the empty space where the bone used to be. With insufficient bone to securely place a dental implant, a sinus lift is necessary to move the sinus away from the roots of the teeth or to create additional bone in the area.
There are two forms of sinus lift procedures. The form that you receive depends upon your individual needs and the amount of bone that is present. Your doctor will discuss your options prior to the procedure.
Before the procedure begins, a local anesthetic is administered to numb the site. In one form of the sinus lift procedure, the doctor will create a small opening in the bone to access the sinus cavity. Using a small instrument, the doctor will gently lift the sinus into a more favorable position. This procedure helps to encourage natural bone growth to fill the space created, but a bone grafting material is often placed beneath the newly raised sinus cavity along the existing bone. This grafting material will then mesh with your existing bone, thus creating more bone.
A second form of the sinus lift, or augmentation, procedure involves gaining access to the sinus cavity through an opening created in the bone. Bone is grafted to the floor of the sinus to increase the bone height. The sinus is not actually lifted in this case, but rather filled in a bit to increase the bone to a sufficient thickness that can support an implant.
You will usually require between four and nine months to heal completely from the sinus lift procedure before dental implants can be placed. This increase in bone will compensate for bone that has been lost or was not present to begin with and will allow for one or more implants to be placed. Without this procedure, some patients will not qualify for dental implants in the upper premolar or molar regions of the mouth.