Sometimes in order for dental implants to properly positioned in the mouth, dentists will have to perform a sinus augmentation, or sinus lift, as it is alternatively known. A sinus augmentation is a surgical procedure that involves moving the sinus membrane upward to allow space to add bone between the jaw and maxillary sinuses — the location where dental implants will go.
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Why A Sinus Lift Is Sometimes Needed
When people lose teeth in their upper jaw, the lack of teeth can lead to bone loss. This can be a major reason why some people need sinus augmentation surgery prior to receiving dental implants. The sinus augmentation will provide space for the implants to be placed so patients can receive implants where their molars used to be. Gum disease can also lead to bone loss in the jaw.
Other times, sinus lifts are performed because sinuses are simply located too close to the teeth for the implant to be safely placed.
How Sinus Augmentations Are Performed
To begin a sinus lift, a dentist or surgeon will cut the gum tissue where your back teeth or molars used to be located. Then, they will raise the tissue to expose the bone and create a small opening in it. Inside the opening is a membrane lining that separates the jaw and the sinus. This membrane will be pushed upward and away from the jaw.
Bone graft material will then be used to pack the space where the sinus was, adding bone to the jaw. The incision will then be closed with stitches, and implants will be placed anywhere from four to nine months later. The time between the sinus augmentation and the implant placement gives the bone-graft material time to mesh and fuse with the jaw to create the space where the implants will be located.