What is a Sinus Lift?
A sinus lift is a a type of bone grafting procedure where we “push” the maxillary sinus up by adding bone, so that we can place one or more dental implants.
A Quick Anatomy Lesson
If you’ve had a bad cold or sinus infection, you know right where your sinuses are. The pair above your nose obviously aren’t important in dentistry, but in your cheeks on the sides they are. When you feel intense pressure and pain there, that’s congested sinuses. The maxillary sinus is located over the roots of your premolars and molars. As you lose those teeth, you also lose bone. Yep – if you don’t have teeth, you don’t need bone in the jaws, so it slowly shrinks away.
Why Would I Need a Sinus Lift?
One of the most important factors in deciding if you can get dental implants placed, is having enough bone to hold the implant(s) in place. If you are missing back teeth in your upper jaw and want them replaced with dental implants, you need enough bone below the bottom edge of the sinus. If you don’t, we have to build it up. We do this by pushing the flexible bottom of the sinus “up” so that we can place bone. Hence the term, “sinus lift.”
2 Types of Sinus Lifts
Internal (Vertical) Approach
The easier, faster, and more comfortable way to do a sinus lift, is similar to placing the implant itself. We use the implant drills to make a hole in the bone right up to the bottom of the sinus. We “tap” the floor of the sinus to push it up, then very gently fill some bone or bone putty to fill in that space. If there’s enough bone initially, we might put the implant in at the same time. If not, we recommend waiting 4 months before the implant is placed. This technique works best for 1 or 2 implants, when only a small amount of additional bone is needed.
Lateral Window (from the side) Approach
Sometimes though, we need to build a lot of bone under the sinus. In that case, we make a “window” in the bone along the side, lift that bone out, lift the sinus, and add a lot of bone. The small bone window is then replaced and the gums sutured. You know those movie scenes, in which someone cuts out a circle of glass, so they can reach in to unlock the door? Basically, it’s just like that. This technique is a little more invasive, so we only use it when necessary. After a lateral sinus lift, we wait at least 4 months, but it can be 6-9 months.
If you want to replace missing back teeth with dental implants, you might need a sinus lift in order to have enough bone.
Give us a Call or Request an Appointment
for a Complimentary Consult for a Sinus Lift or Dental Implants.
It’s that easy to start.