Sinus Lift - Sinus Augmentation
What is Sinus Augmentation? (Sinus Lift)
Sinus augmentation or sinus lift is a surgical dental bone grafting procedure, usually performed in preparation of dental implants placement in the area of the back upper jaw.
Sinus lift procedures have proven to be successful allowing patients without enough bone in the sinus area to become eligible for dental implants.
Sinus lift & bone grafting
The purpose of a sinus lift procedure is to raise the maxillary sinus floor and provide adequate space and mass of jaw bone for safe and successful placement of dental implants to replace missing upper molars. The maxillary sinus is located above the upper jaw just inside of the bone in the upper cheek area.
During sinus augmentation the sinus membrane is lifted and dental bone graft material is placed between the upper ridge of the jaw and the floor of the maxillary sinus.
Sinus lifts are performed in the dental office under local anaesthesia by a specialist dentist, a maxillofacial surgeon or a periodontist.
Sinus lifts have made possible the use of implants for many patients who otherwise had no other option than the traditional bridges or dentures.
When sinus lift is necessary before dental implants?
The dental implant dentist will recommend a sinus lift procedure when the radiographic evidence (x-rays or CT-scans) show that there is not enough bone structure in the upper jaw to support the dental implants. If the depth of the jawbone under the sinuses is not adequate, placing an implant may result in an implant failure either because the implant is loose or because the sinus will be perforated. A sinus membrane perforation may cause infection that could also lead to implant failure.
When the distance between the lower ridge of the maxilla (upper jaw) and the floor of the sinus cavity is too small to place a dental implant of proper length, a sinus lift or sinus augmentation procedure must be performed, in order to restore the necessary bone depth.
Conditions that make necessary a sinus lift include:
- Facial bones anatomy
The natural facial bones anatomy such as the size and shape of jaws and sinuses differs from person to person. If a person has a combination of a relatively small upper jaw and relatively large maxillary sinus, the available bone depth in the area of the back teeth is not sufficient for the placement of implants. Older people are more affected due to the natural tendency of the sinuses to get larger with age.
- Bone loss due to gum disease
Advanced periodontal disease (periodontitis) can cause significant loss of bone structure around the infected teeth. When the tooth is lost or has to be removed, it is sometimes very difficult to replace it with an implant because the remaining bone is not enough to support it. The upper jaw has by nature less bone density than the lower jaw especially at the area of the upper back teeth, making it more vulnerable to bone loss due to gum disease. The only solution in this case are sinus lift and bone grafting.
- Bone resorption due to missing teeth
Bone maintains its structure and volume through mechanical stimuli. When a tooth is lost, the mechanical stimulus is also lost; the body thinks that the bone is no longer needed there and starts a resorption process to recover the bone minerals. This condition can lead to poor quality and quantity of bone, making patients not suitable candidates for placement of dental implants. People who have lost their upper molars, without replacing them soon, are the more seriously affected and will probably need a sinus lift before they can replace them with dental implants.
- Bone loss due to other factors
In some cases a bone deficiency may be associated with a previous surgical procedure such as a difficult tooth extraction or the removal of a cyst or tumor.