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Sinus Lift Operation

Sinus augmentation is actually a combination of a sinus lift operation and a bone grafting procedure. The most popular techniques that oral surgeons use for performing a sinus lift operation are:
a) Lateral window approach and
b) Osteotome approach (internal sinus lift).

Preparation of a sinus lift operation

A CT-scan is recommended before starting a sinus lift operation, in order to have a clear 3d-image of the jawbone and sinus that can help in best preparation and design of the surgical procedure.

Depending on the case's findings the dentist will decide which type of sinus lift procedure is more suitable.

Sinus augmentation is a dental bone grafting procedure. There are several types of bone graft materials depending on the source of the graft (autografts, allografts, xenografts etc).

If an autogenous bone graft will be taken from the patient's chin the surgical procedure can be at the same appointment as the sinus lift. If the bone graft has to be taken from the patient's hip the procedure must be performed in a hospital. For sinus augmentation / sinus lift procedures many dentists prefer the use of allografts or xenografts in order to 'save' the patient from one more surgical procedure.

Sinus lift operation - The sinus lift surgery techniques

Today, there are several surgical techniques developed for a sinus lift procedure. Dentists decide which is more suitable for each patient based on their training and the characteristics of the individual case. The most commonly used techniques for sinus lift surgery are:

Technique 1. Lateral Window approach - Traditional Approach

  • An incision is done in the gum tissue to expose the bone on the buccal (cheek) side of the jaw right above the area that the implant will be placed and a little higher from the sinus floor.
  • A small 'window' is cut on the bone in a way that a 'trap' door is created hanging from the top.
  • This piece of bone is pushed gently inwards and upwards into the sinus cavity
  • The bone's movement carries the sinus membrane higher, lifting the sinus floor. The first phase of the sinus lift is now completed.
  • The empty space created underneath the bone window is filled with bone graft material to complete the sinus augmentation.
  • The gum tissue is put back in place and stitched.
  • The bone graft material will eventually form new bone tissue and increase the bone mass around the implantation area.

Technique 2. The Osteotome approach - "Internal Sinus Lift Procedure"

The technique is used when the depth of the jaw is enough for placing a stable implant and only little extra bone (1-3mm) is needed in order to prevent sinus perforation. This type of sinus lift procedure is less invasive causing less surgical trauma than the 'lateral window' approach. Another advantage of the 'internal sinus lift' technique is that it can be done at the same time the dental implant is placed.

  • The osteotome sinus lift utilizes the same opening that is used for the placement of the dental implant.
  • The surgeon uses a sharp osteotome to create an indentation on the bone
  • A sinus lift osteotome is then placed into the socket and the sinus floor is gently pushed up until it is cracked free. It is then pushed further to lift the sinus membrane and create the desired height for the dental implant.
  • The required quantity of bone graft material is placed into the sinus lift.
  • The implant can be placed immediately after the sinus lift bone grafting has completed.

Sinus lifts performed with either of these techniques have been shown to greatly increase the success rate of dental implant procedures.

Sinus lift aftercare & follow up

  • Some swelling and pain can be expected for a few days after the sinus lift procedure but without causing any major discomfort. Some bleeding from the mouth or nose is also normal.
  • The dentist will prescribe pain medication, antibiotics and an antimicrobial mouthwash to help prevent infection.
  • A follow-up visit to the dentist is scheduled after a week or two, for the stitches to be removed and the dentist to monitor the healing progress.
  • A major risk for sinus lifts is sneezing that could cause the bone graft material to move away of the implantation area.
  • The patient should avoid blowing the nose or sneezing forcefully.
  • In case of allergies, the sinus lift procedure must be scheduled at an appropriate season of the year when symptoms are at a minimum.

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Last update: 03/03/2014