Maxillary sinuses are empty air spaces alongside of your nose and up above the roots of your back teeth. In some cases, roots of the natural teeth extend up into the maxillary sinuses. When those upper teeth are removed, there may be a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. Dental implants need solid bone to hold them in place. When the bone of the sinus floor is very thin, bone volume needs to be increased in order to place dental implants in these areas.
Key to a successful and long-lasting dental implant is the quality and quantity of bone to which the implant is attached. A sinus lift/bone graft is one of the most common bone grafting procedures for patients with bone loss in the upper jaw. The procedure allows bone to grow on the floor of the maxillary sinus above the bony ridge of the gum line that anchors the teeth in the upper jaw. By strengthening and increasing bone in this location, dental implants can be placed and remain secured.
A sinus lift may be necessary if you:
Through a small incision in your gum tissue a small opening is made into the bone of the sinus, and the membrane lining the sinus is elevated. The underlying space is filled with bone grafting material, either from your own body or from a cadaver. Sometimes, synthetic materials that can stimulate 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 upper jaw and dental implants can be inserted and stabilized in this new sinus bone.
If enough bone between the upper jaw ridge and the bottom of the sinus is available to stabilize the implant, sinus augmentation and dental implant placement can usually be performed as a single procedure. If not enough bone is available, the sinus lift will have to be performed first, then the bone graft will have to mature for several months depending upon the type of graft material used. Once the graft material has matured, dental implants can be placed.