What is a Sinus?:
The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper teeth. These sinuses are empty, air-filled spaces. Some of the roots of the natural upper teeth extend up into the maxillary sinuses. When these upper teeth are removed, there is often just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. Dental implants need bone to hold them in place. When the sinus wall is very thin, it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone.
The key to a successful and long-lasting dental implant is the quality and quantity of jawbone to which the implant will be attached. If bone loss has occurred due to injury or periodontal disease, a sinus augmentation can raise the sinus floor and allow for new bone formation.
The Sinus Augmentation Procedures:
INFERIOR SINUS LIFT PROCEDURE:
If enough bone between the upper jaw ridge and the bottom of the sinus is available to stabilize the implant, a sinus augmentation and implant placement can be performed as a single procedure. During this procedure, as the site is prepared for the dental implant, a bone graft material is placed into the site to raise the level of the sinus membrane. Once that is accomplished, the dental implant is also placed at the same time.
LATERAL SINUS LIFT PROCEDURE
If not enough bone is available, the sinus augmentation will have to be performed first, then the graft will have to mature for several months. Once the graft has matured, the implant(s) can be placed.
During the procedure, a small incision is made in the premolar or molar region to expose the jawbone. A small opening is cut into the bone, and the membrane lining the sinus is pushed upward. The underlying space is filled with bone grafting material, either from your own body or from a cadaver. Sometimes, synthetic materials that can imitate bone formation are used. After the bone is implanted, the incision is stitched up and the healing process begins. After several months of healing, the bone becomes part of the patient’s jaw and dental implants can be inserted and stabilized in this new sinus bone.
The sinus graft makes it possible for many patients to have dental implants when years ago there was no other option besides wearing loose dentures.