Often, when a tooth is lost in the upper jaw, bone loss will occur. The sinuses will then expand and fill the area where bone used to be. When you need dental implants, one of the first things Dr. Silverstein or Dr. Parker will do is identify whether you have sufficient bone in place to support the implant. If not, you will likely need a sinus lift (also called a sinus augmentation) to fill in new bone material where your bone structure is inadequate.
The Need for Sinus Lifts
If you have been missing teeth for a long period of time, or if you are missing teeth in the back of your jaw (the molars), it may be that you did not have enough bone to begin with, you have lost bone due to periodontal disease, or your body has absorbed some of the bone that was once there because the bone was not required to support a tooth. In the absence of bone, your sinuses may have stretched to fill in the gaps, and now are in the exact area where the implant is to be placed.
What Patients Can Expect With Sinus Surgery
Sinus surgery is a fairly simple and common procedure, often performed by a periodontist or maxillofacial surgeon. The doctor will perform the surgery by opening up your gums, identifying the lining of your sinuses behind the wall of the gums, then moving it out of the way—or “lifting” it. Once the sinus membrane is out of the way, the dentist will fill in the remaining void with bone graft materials that can grow into an adequate bone structure to support future implants.
What Comes Next
Once the sinus surgery is complete, you will wait approximately six to nine months while the bone material integrates with your existing bone, grows and solidifies, then the dental implant will be placed. After the surgery you will have frequent follow-up appointments with the doctor to ensure the area is healing, remove stitches, and evaluate whether the bone graft material is properly hardening.
Dental implants have become one of the most popular procedures for replacing lost teeth (rather than partial dentures or fixed bridges), but in order to be successful, your jaw must be able to support the dental implants. Sinus surgery is one of the most common procedures to create the new bone required for effective implant placement.