Sinus Lift

Sinus lifts have become fairly common during the last 15 years as more people choose dental implants to replace missing teeth.

What Is It?

A sinus lift is a surgical procedure that increases the amount of bone in your upper jaw in the area of your molars and premolars. It's also known as a sinus augmentation or sinus graft.

Bone is added between your jaw and the maxillary sinuses, which are located on either side of your nose. To make room for the bone, the sinus membrane is moved upward (or "lifted").

What It's Used For

A sinus lift is recommended when there is not enough bone height in the upper jaw, or the sinuses are too close to the jaw, for dental implants to be placed.There are several reasons for this:

  • Many people who have lost teeth in their upper jaw — particularly the back teeth, or molars — do not have enough bone for implants to be placed. Because of the anatomy of the skull, the back of the upper jaw has less bone than the lower jaw.
  • Bone may have been lost due to periodontal (gum) disease.
  • Many people who have lost teeth in their upper jaw, particularly the back teeth, will not have enough bone for dental implants to be placed.
  • In many cases tooth loss leads to bone loss as well. When teeth are lost or removed, bone begins to be shrink. If teeth have been missing for a long time, there often is not enough bone left to place implants.
  • The maxillary sinus may be too close to the upper jaw for implants to be placed. The shape and the size of the maxillary sinus vary from person to person and can get larger as you get older.

Preparation

The bone used in a sinus lift may come from your own body (autogenous bone), from a cadaver (allogeneic bone) or from cow bone (xenograft).

X-rays will be taken before the procedure so your dentist can study the anatomy of your jaw and sinus. A special type of computed tomography (CT) scan may also be necessary so that your dentist can accurately measure the height and width of existing bone and to evaluate the health of your sinus.

If you suffer from hay fever or any other seasonal allergy, you should schedule the procedure when they are not active.

The Procedure

Your dental surgeon will make an incision to the gum tissue where your back teeth used to be. The tissue is raised, exposing the bone. A small, oval window is opened in the bone. The membrane lining the sinus on the other side of the window separates your sinus from your jaw. This membrane is gently pushed up and away from your jaw. The bone-graft material is placed into the space where the sinus was.

Dental implants may be placed at the same time if there is enough jaw bone to keep the implants stable, if this is not possible, the implants will be placed four to nine months later allowing the grafted material to mesh with your bone.

Follow-Up

After the procedure, you may experience some swelling of the area and you may bleed from your mouth or nose. Do not blow your nose or sneeze forcefully as the bone-graft material could be moved, and the stitches loosened.

Your dentist may give you a saline spray and prescribe medicine to prevent congestion and inflammation. You also will be given pain relief, typically an antibiotic and an antimicrobial mouthwash to help prevent infection. Most patients experience only a little discomfort after this procedure.

You will need a dental examination after 7 to 10 days so your dentist can make sure the area is healing properly and to remove stitches that have not dissolved on their own. You will need to wait between four and nine months for the bone graft to integrate with your jaw before the implants are placed.

Risks

There is a risk that the sinus membrane becomes perforated or torn during a sinus lift procedure. If this occurs it’s a very simple procedure for the surgeon to stitch the sinus tear or place a patch over it.

If the repair is not successful at the first attempt your dentist will halt the procedure and redo the sinus lift in a few months once the membrane has healed. Normally the healed membrane is both thicker and stronger, meaning a second attempt is likely to be successful.

There are other factors to be aware of which can also affect success.  Infection is a risk of any surgical procedure. However, this rarely occurs after sinus lifts.

On rare occasions, the existing bone does not integrate with the graft material, and the grafted area does not develop a blood supply meaning any dental implant placed in this area will fail because there is no live bone to attach to. If this occurs, you can have the sinus lift procedure repeated.

If you would like to replace missing teeth with dental implants, call us on 0115 981 6986 or book a consultation and find out whether you are suitable for implant treatment.