What is a Sinus Lift?
The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper teeth. These sinuses are empty, air-filled spaces. Some of the roots of the natural upper teeth extend up into the maxillary sinuses. Often there is just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. Sometimes it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone. For patients that would like to replace the missing molars with dental implants this thin bone requires a sinus augmentation.
Sinus augmentation is a simple procedure that elevates the sinus floor. Both predictable and highly successful, these procedures allow implant replacement for missing upper molars.
How is this Procedure Accomplished?
In a direct (open) sinus lift a small window is opened on the outside of the sinus wall. A small opening is created in the bone and the membrane lining the sinus is pushed upward. The underlying space is filled with bone grafting material. 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.
In some patients, enough natural bone is available to stabilize an implant, but not enough for long term success. In these cases, only a small amount of bone grafting/sinus lifting is required. Often times, this is done simultaneously with the placement of the dental implant. During this single surgical procedure, the implant site is prepared in the bone of the sinus floor. This bone (along with other bone graft material) is then gently “pushed up”, thus lifting or augmenting the sinus.