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What is a sinus lift (sinus augmentation)?

man suffering from sinus pressure

It might sound odd, but sinus lifts are a real thing and they can make a big difference in a person’s quality of life. During a sinus lift bone is added to the upper jaw between your molars and premolars. In order to add the bone the sinus membrane has to be moved up.

What do sinus lifts help?

Sinus lifts are performed when the upper jaw does not have enough bone height and the sinuses are too close to the jaw for dental implants. This lack of bone height can be the result of people losing teeth at the back of their upper jaw. They also might experience bone loss because of gum disease or missing teeth, which cause the bone to be absorbed back into the body.

How is a person prepped for a sinus lift?

Prior to a sinus lift a person will have x-rays take so that the dentist totally understands your facial and sinus structure. He might also request a CT scan be done so he can see surrounding tissues.

People getting a sinus lift will require a bone graft. The bone can come from a person’s own body, a cadaver (usually in the form of bone powder), or even a cow. Bone used from your body will likely come from your mouth or the hip or tibia.

Once you’re cleared for surgery the dentist will schedule you for a time when you don’t have a sinus infection and aren’t suffering from seasonal allergies, as these interfere with the success of the surgery.

The Procedure

During the sinus graft surgery the doctor the doctor cuts open the gum tissue that exists where teeth used to be. He then opens the incision to access the bone and creates a small opening. He separates the membrane away from your jaw (the membrane separates your sinus from your jaw).

Bone graft is packed into the space where the sinus used to be. Typically several millimeters are required to achieve the proper height. Your jaw is then stitched shut and left to heal. The time required to heal varies from person to person, but most people are ready for their dental implants within four to nine months.

What are the risks involved with a sinus lift?

The most common risk of a sinus lift is a torn or punctured sinus membrane. Should this happen the dentist either stitches the hole shut or, if necessary, stops the procedure to give the membrane time to heal. There’s also a chance that your bone graft won’t take. If the bone graft doesn’t take there isn’t any live bone for implants to be cemented in. As a result, patients who experience this aren’t able to get implants like they initially planned.

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