The sinus lift is a surgical procedure that adds bone to your upper jaw in your molars and premolars region. This method is known as sinus augmentation. Bone is added between your maxillary sinuses situated on either side of your nose and jaw. The sinus membrane has to be “lifted” or moved upward. A sinus lift typically is done by a specialist. Specialists that are qualified to conduct such procedures are either an oral and maxillofacial surgeon or a periodontist.
A sinus lift may be indicated for you if you:
• Are missing more than one tooth in the back of your jaw.
• Are losing a significant amount of bone in the back of your jaw.
• are missing most of the maxillary teeth, but require support for dental implants.
• are missing teeth due to a birth defect or condition.
Many people who have missing teeth in their upper jaw — particularly the teeth at the back, or molars — do not have sufficient bone for implants to be placed. Due to the anatomy of the skull, the back of the upper jaw has less bone than the lower jaw. The bone may have been lost over time due to periodontal (gum) disease.
Tooth loss may have led to a loss of bone as well. When teeth are gone, bone begins to be resorbed. If teeth have been missing for a long time, there often insufficient of minimum bone dimension left to place implants.
The maxillary sinus may be too close to the upper jaw for implants to be placed. The shape and the size of this sinus vary from person to person. The sinus also can get larger as you age.
The surgeon will excise the gum where your back teeth used to be located. The tissue is raised a little to expose the bone. A small, oval window is opened to the bone. The membrane lining the sinus on the other side of the window separates your sinus from your jaw. This membrane is gently pushed up and away from your jaw.
Granules of bone-graft material are then packed into the space where the sinus was. The amount of bone used will vary, but usually, several millimeters of bone is added above the jaw. When the bone graft is in place at the intended position, the tissue is closed with stitches. Your implants will be placed four to nine months later, allowing time for the grafted material to mesh with your bone.
Patients with a reduced quantity and height of alveolar bone in the maxilla need a sinus lift operation to insert dental implants with acceptable chances of success. If this is you, do consult an oral surgeon if a sinus lift should be done before an implant is placed.