If you’re a candidate for traditional dental implants, all on four dental implants, or mini dental implants, the success of the procedure will depend on the amount of bone available to keep the implant securely anchored.
The upper jaw bone - called the maxilla - can be a difficult location to successfully place dental implants because of low bone volume and its proximity to the sinus. And if you’ve suffered bone loss because of periodontal disease, the effort to place a dental implant because of a lost tooth will be even more challenging.
Central Texas Periodontics offers Sinus Lift procedures, which graft extra bone into the maxillary sinus, so more bone is available to support a dental implant.
Sinuses & Dental Implants
The maxillary sinuses are just behind your cheeks and above your upper teeth. Most of this area is filled with air and the bone wall is shallow. If you lose one of your upper teeth, it’s possible that its roots reach up into this area. If you desire a dental implant to replace that lost upper tooth, a bone graft will be necessary to ensure that the implant is secure.
During a sinus lift - also called a sinus augmentation - the sinus floor is raised and bone is grafted there to help begin the process of growing enough bone to securely anchor a dental implant.
You may need a sinus lift if you lose one or more of your upper back teeth since the trauma of losing a tooth will make the bone shrink even more in that area. Because your sinuses will expand to take up the space where the bone used to be, your periodontist must first lift the sinus to create the space necessary for grafting bone.
Although the maxillary sinus area is naturally very low in bone density, other conditions may have caused even more bone loss in the area:
- Birth defect
- Periodontal disease
- Individual variation - you may simply have a thin jawbone or very large sinus cavities
The Foundation for Oral Rehabilitation recommends sinus lift surgery if your doctor determines that you have less than 4 to 6 millimeters of bone height in the area of the jaw where an implant would be placed.
Benefits of a Sinus Lift
Aside from making space to graft bone so that your implants will be successfully anchored, a sinus lift will reduce the chance of damaging your sinuses during implant placement.
Sinus lifts are common, routine procedures. When performed correctly, sinus lifts are not expected to affect your sinuses, breathing, or allergies.
The sinus lift is one of the most successful and predictable bone grafting procedures, as the techniques and materials used in performing a sinus lift have increasingly improved over time.
What to Expect from a Sinus Lift Procedure
There are two types of Sinus Lift procedures available. Your procedure will depend on the amount of bone you have available. Prior to your procedure, your doctor will go over any pre-operative instructions you should follow, as well as any specifics about the surgical process. Generally, the procedure occurs as follows:
- A local anesthetic will be applied to the surgical site
- An opening is created in the bone to access the sinus cavity
- The sinus is gently lifted using a small instrument
- The grafting material is placed beneath the sinus membrane alongside the existing bone.
- The grafting material is stabilized with a protective membrane and the gum tissue is closed using stitches
- Depending on the procedure used, the implant can sometimes be placed simultaneously with the sinus lift. Otherwise, your doctor will allow approximately 4 to 9 months of healing before placing the implant.
The type of sinus lift procedure used varies based on the individual patient. The primary concern is bone stability, so if your doctor sees a reason why the implant should not be placed immediately - even though it initially seemed like both procedures could be done on the same day - he or she will exercise caution and postpone implant placement until it is certain that it can be placed successfully.
After a sinus lift, the most common side effects are swelling and bleeding, but you’ll likely feel discomfort for only a few days. Follow your doctor’s orders, but recovery generally requires that you:
- Take antibiotics to prevent infection
- Avoid blowing your nose since it could move the bone graft material
- Follow dental hygiene practices that do not include brushing your teeth for a few days. Vigorous brushing could dislodge a healed blood clot and cause further bleeding.
- Avoid drinking from straws since suction could also dislodge a blood clot.
- Take OTC pain relievers for any discomfort
- Do not smoke. It could extend your healing period.
Your doctor will want to follow-up shortly after the procedure - generally within a week’s time. But if you experience bleeding or pain that become more pronounced after the first few days, call your doctor immediately.
Sinus Lift Procedure at Central Texas Periodontics
The experienced and skilled periodontists at Central Texas Periodontics will be able to detect whether or not you have enough available bone to move forward with dental implant placement. Depending on the condition of your teeth and gums, you may require alloderm gum grafts or gum grafts that involve harvesting your own gum tissue to help preserve your existing bone mass. And standard dental bone grafts are often necessary to grow new bone after the trauma of tooth loss, since bone naturally resorbs after you lose a tooth.
But if you’ve lost a tooth in your upper jaw, there’s a good probability that you will require a sinus lift to fortify the shallow bone in that area of your anatomy. As stated earlier, a sinus lift is one of the most effective and predictable dental bone grafts procedures. It is safe, and should not impact the functioning of your sinuses in any way.
For more information about our practice, our talented specialists, and the different sinus lift procedures, contact us to find out how to reach us at one of our four convenient locations.