Sinus Lift / Sinus Augmentation
Many people are getting dental implants, making Sinus Lifts an increasingly standard procedure over the last 15 years.
A Sinus Lift is a treatment approach you need when you desire dental implants to replace the upper back teeth, or molars, but do not have enough jaw bone height to support them. Other names for this procedure are sinus augmentation and sinus graft.
Do you require a Sinus Lift surgery & have some questions? We have got you covered. Read on to learn more about Sinus lift and how this routine periodontal procedure can help secure dental implants.
What is a Sinus Lift?
When a dental implant is placed, it must be fully surrounded by good bone support. This means the patient must have enough bone width & enough bone height. Some people need a dental implant, but because of bone loss or downward movement of the sinus space with gravity after tooth loss, they don’t have enough bone height to support an implant. A sinus lift is a procedure that moves the lining of the sinus space vertically, to gain back the bone height that a patient has lost.
A good analogy is to think of the Maxillary Sinus as an air-filled space, like a balloon. It sits behind the cheekbones and above the tooth roots on the upper jaw, in the back. When the sinus has fallen (after tooth loss, or sometimes patients just naturally have low sinuses), it doesn’t leave enough height for a dental implant.
A sinus lift is performed where the sinus membrane (like the rubber part of a balloon) is gently lifted in the spot where the implant is going to go, which just slightly changes the shape of the sinus, and a bone graft is placed to achieve more height.
There are 2 types of sinus lifts:
- INDIRECT (LOCALIZED) SINUS LIFT: In cases where the bone loss is more mild, we can do the sinus lift at the same time as placing the implant. There is no additional wound or drilling; it all happens through the exact same pilot hole the implant is placed in, so the patient usually doesn’t even know it happened.
- DIRECT (LATERAL WINDOW) SINUS LIFT: In cases of more advanced bone loss, where there isn’t enough strong bone present already to firmly grip the implant, the sinus lift is done as a separate procedure, before the implant is placed.
Your periodontist will take a 3D X-ray of your jawbone to help determine if you are a candidate for a dental implant, and — if a sinus lift is needed, — whether or not it will be Indirect (at the same time as the implant), or Direct (performed separately from the implant placement).
Only a dentist specially trained in sinus augmentation procedures & specialized bone grafting techniques performs this procedure. Your implant surgeon at Periodontal Specialists is Board Certified in Periodontics & Implant Dentistry, and has received extensive training on sinus lift procedures.
How is a Sinus Lift Surgery Done?
It is always good to go over what you can expect during surgery to be fully prepared and confident as you go into the Sinus Lift. The general sequence of events taking place during a Sinus Lift procedure is outlined below:
- The area will be numbed with a numbing jelly followed by a local anesthetic, ensuring you are completely comfortable during the procedure.
- Your periodontist will make a small incision to gently open the gum tissue.
- Next, they will gain access to the lining of the sinus through either a pilot hole made for the implant, or — if an implant is not being placed until later — by creating a small window in the bone to gain access to the sinus membrane.
- Your periodontist gently elevates the sinus membrane, lifting it to create a space to add a bone graft.
- If the implant is being placed at the same time, it is then placed after the bone graft.
- Finally, the surgeon closes the incision with very small stitches. Oftentimes dissolvable stitches.
The healing process begins. It is usually uneventful & pleasantly surprising for patients.
What is the timeline for an implant with sinus lift?
If the implant is placed at the same time as the sinus lift, the bone & implant integration timeline is usually 4-6 months. At that time, your periodontist will evaluate the implant & inform you & your general dentist that it is ready to now have a crown (tooth) attached to the implant post.
If you are needing a sinus lift only first, that bone maturation timeline is typically 6 months. Then your periodontist will take a 3D X-ray to ensure your graft is ready to go, and then place the dental implant as a separate procedure. That implant then takes about 3-6 months to integrate, before your general dentist places the tooth.
Implant timelines are usually anywhere from 4-12 months. We think of dental implants as “regrowing a tooth”, and in the case for most patients involves some sort of bone graft to “set the stage” and get the bone foundation ready. This takes some time. We believe in doing things the right way, even if that takes a little extra time, to ensure you have the best chance for success.
How do I know if I’m a good candidate?
At Periodontal Specialists, we are always honest with you about whether or not you are a good candidate for an implant or bone grafting.
We will take a 3D X-ray of the area, do a thorough clinical exam, and most importantly — we will spend time with you, talking about your interests and goals to ensure it is the right route for you. We want you to be happy with your implants. And if your periodontist believes you are a good candidate, the end result is a natural-feeling tooth, and the ability to regain health & function!
In addition to the clinical features your periodontist will evaluate, candidates should have the following qualities:
- Overall healthy sinuses
- Stable dental & periodontal health
- Must have a general dentist, as we work as a team with your dentist.
- Your periodontist provides any surgical care you may need below the gum (extraction, grafts, and placement of the implant).
- Your general dentist provides the treatment above the gum (the tooth part of the implant).
- Have a full understanding of the options, benefits & risks of the procedures — through conversations with their general dentist & periodontist
- Willing to follow pre- & post-surgical instructions carefully
Our mission at Periodontal Specialists is to help improve & maintain the quality of life of our patients.