Dental implant placement is a surgical procedure that presents many advantages. In addition to providing patients with a full smile and better masticatory function, implants prevent bone loss in the jaw after losing one or more teeth.
However, if a patient who is missing teeth waits too long before getting dental implants, the bone may have time to deteriorate significantly, necessitating a bone graft. If bone loss in the upper jaw has caused the sinuses to descend, a sinus lift will be required.
What is a sinus lift, and what purpose does it serve? Why is the procedure sometimes required before dental implants can be placed?
Find out in this article.
The purpose of a sinus lift
The sinus lift is an oral and maxillofacial surgery procedure that involves lifting the tissues of the maxillary sinuses above the back teeth and placing a graft to restore adequate bone volume in the upper jaw.
To determine whether a sinus lift is necessary, a maxillofacial surgery specialist will perform a complete oral exam on the patient. Using 3D x-ray technology, they can determine whether there are any compromised areas in the mouth that may affect dental implant placement.
With this information, the surgeon can create a personalized plan for the procedure in order to maximize the chances of successful implant placement.
Why are sinus lifts sometimes needed before implants?
It may seem confusing to talk about sinuses in dentistry, but the maxillary sinuses and upper jawbone are intrinsically linked.
When someone has lost some or all of the teeth in their upper jaw, the jawbone can begin to recede if no implants are placed. This occurs because teeth provide the jawbone with the stimulation it needs to stay healthy and strong. The more the jawbone recedes, the more room there is for the sinus tissues to expand. In severe cases, there may only be a thin layer of bone left between the mouth and the sinus (sometimes just 1 or 2 mm!).
When a patient presents with significant bone loss and expanded sinuses, it’s impossible to proceed directly to implant placement. The sinus lift is performed to free up space for a bone graft that will increase the jawbone’s volume and solidity enough to support the implants. The maxillofacial surgeon can then proceed with implant placement once the patient has healed.
The steps of a sinus lift
If a sinus lift is necessary, it will be the first step in the implant placement process. The surgery is performed under local anaesthetic, along with intravenous sedation if the patient prefers.
After the anaesthetic takes effect, the surgeon can proceed with the sinus lift. The steps are as follows:
- A small window is made in the upper jawbone to expose the sinus tissues.
- The surgeon gently lifts the sinus to create space for the bone graft.
- The bone graft is placed, filling the space once occupied by the sinus and providing it with additional support.
- A collagen membrane is inserted between the graft and the sinus to hold everything in place.
- The surgeon closes the incision with sutures.
After the operation, the patient will need to wait several weeks to give the bone time to accept the graft before proceeding with implant placement. If the operation proves successful, the implants can be placed a few months later.
Sinus lifts: one of Clinique Evoro’s many specialties
The sinus lift is a surgical technique that elevates the sinus tissues encroaching on the space once occupied by the jawbone. The surgery makes room for a bone graft that is needed in order to place dental implants.
People who have been missing teeth for years are most likely to need this operation, since bone loss worsens over time.
Do you think you may need a sinus lift before getting dental implants? Contact Clinique Evoro to schedule a consultation with one of our maxillofacial surgery specialists.