What is the Purpose of a Sinus Lift?
People who desire to replace lost teeth in the upper molar and premolar areas of the mouth commonly desire dental implants. Dental implants require an adequate amount of bone thickness to stabilize and fully integrate an implant. A sinus lift, or sinus augmentation, is a procedure that will increase the depth of bone so that an implant will properly integrate.
Upper molars and premolars often have inadequate bone depth after tooth loss for two common reasons. First, as in all areas of the mouth, there is a large amount of bone loss as the tooth socket tends to collapse as it heals. Second, the the floor of the sinus, above the upper molars, expands when the body senses a lost tooth. This expansion replaces the existing bone. Without sufficient bone to securely place a dental implant, a sinus lift is necessary to create additional bone depth.
Before the procedure begins, a local anesthetic is administered to fully numb the site. The doctor will make a small window, or opening, in the bone to access the sinus cavity. The doctor then can gently lift the floor of the sinus away from the bone. In the new space, between the sinus and existing bone, the doctor places a bone graft which holds the sinus is in a more favorable location. At the end of the procedure the doctor will place a membrane over the window that will protect the graft as it heals. Finally, the gums are placed back into their original position and sutured close over the membrane. In some cases, the doctor will place the implant during the sinus lift procedure.
In the next 4 to 8 months the bone graft acts as a template for new and natural bone to fill in. The grafting material will mesh with your existing bone, thus creating additional bone for the new implant.