What is a sinus lift?
A sinus lift is a bone grafting procedure (placed into your sinus) used to increase the vertical height of your existing upper jaw bone so that there is enough bone present to place stable dental implants.
What is the “sinus” that is being lifted?
The sinus in “sinus lift” refers to the maxillary sinus. Basically, the sinuses are hollow air-filled spaces positioned above the upper teeth. Every person has these sinuses on both sides of their upper jaw towards the back. These sinuses are situated just above the upper back teeth and are normal human anatomy. These sinuses tend to enlarge as we age and after tooth extraction and this can affect dental implant placement.
Why might I need a sinus lift?
As we age and especially after tooth extractions, the maxillary sinuses (hollow spaces) above the upper teeth tend to enlarge. The jaw bone volume also shrinks after tooth extraction. The inevitable combination of enlarging sinuses and decreased upper jaw bone volume with age after tooth extraction can prevent placement of upper dental implants since there may not be enough bone present for an implant to be stable enough after placement. In this situation, a sinus lift is necessary to increase the bone height of your upper jaw so that a stable dental implant may be placed.
How is a sinus lift performed?
A sinus lift is performed by first making a small incision in the gums. Next, a tiny window is made into the sinus through the bone and bone graft material is placed into the sinus. Then, dissolvable stitches are placed to close the gum tissue over the grafted bone.
What type of bone graft is placed into the sinus?
The graft material will be bone from a bottle or “banked” bone. The sources of the bone are usually either cadaver bone or bone from animals (usually “bovine,” meaning from an animal in the cow family). The consistency of graft placed into the sinus will usually be in the form of many small particles of bone which are easily shaped to the desired area.
What are my anesthesia options for a sinus lift?
Please refer to the “anesthesia options” section of the website for extensive information regarding this topic (link below).
How long does a sinus lift take to heal?
Depending on the type of bone used, sinus lifts must heal for 4-6 months prior to implant placement into the healed bone.
What special instructions do I need to follow after my sinus lift?
There are several things you can do to to help prevent your graft from failing. You will be given these written instructions after your procedure. The most important things to remember after having a sinus lift are “sinus precautions.” Sinus precautions are are a set of precautions you must follow for 4 weeks after a sinus lift. You must avoid any action which places positive or negative air pressure in your mouth or nose since your mouth and nose are connected to the sinuses. Pressure in your mouth/nose/sinus will displace the graft and lead to graft failure. You should avoid the following: blowing your nose, drinking through a straw, blowing (no blowing balloons or playing wind instruments), heavy lifting/straining.
Other important things to keep in mind after a sinus lift are to take your prescribed antibiotics and avoid smoking.
What are the risks of sinus lifts?
In general, the most important risk of bone grafting is graft failure. Unfortunately, bone grafts can become infected and have to be removed. This is very rare.
Does smoking affect sinus lift healing?
Smoking decreases the success of sinus lifts (bone grafts) by several times and makes their healing less predictable. The adverse effects of smoking on the mouth are numerous and last up to 6 weeks after the last cigarette/cigar is used. Smoking within 6 weeks before bone grafting or within 6 months after the bone graft (sinus lift) places you at increased risk for infection and graft failure requiring surgical removal of the graft.