Dentists sometimes recommend sinus lift surgery to create an adequate bone structure for securing dental implants. This procedure is commonly referred to as a sinus augmentation or sinus graft. Usually, a dentist with periodontology or oral surgery experience and training performs this procedure. There are different ways a dentist may perform a sinus lift. Below, we answer a few questions regarding this procedure so that you will gain a better understanding of it and help you determine whether this treatment is right for you.
What is a sinus lift?
Sinus lifts involve raising the floor of the sinuses to make enough space for a bone graft and secure dental implants. Your sinus cavities are air-filled sacs located in your upper jaw where your cheeks are, and the floor of the sinus cavities extends to the roots of your upper teeth. Often, this is why you may experience a dull toothache when you have nasal congestion or a cold.
What are the risks of a sinus lift?
Risks and complications associated with a sinus lift are rare, especially if you choose a qualified dentist. However, you should be aware of the following risks of getting a sinus lift.
Swelling and bleeding are normal but should subside within a few days. More serious risks include perforation of the membrane lining and chronic sinusitis, and infections.
Additional steps that you can take to help minimize your risks include:
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When are sinus lifts necessary?
Sinus lifts are sometimes necessary if you seek to restore your missing teeth on the upper dental arch but don’t have enough jawbone to support dental implants. Without sufficient jawbone, the implant may fail because there isn’t enough bone to hold it in place and provide a stable foundation for the final restoration. Likewise, the implant would be unable to withstand chewing. Other reasons a patient may need a sinus lift is due to birth defects, periodontal disease, cancer, or if the sinus cavities are too large or thin. Additionally, tooth loss may result in the jawbone diminishing, which may require a bone graft and sinus lift before getting implants.
How should I prepare for sinus lift surgery?
If you have decided to get dental implants and require a sinus lift, be prepared for a multistep process. Once the tooth is removed, the dentist can perform sinus lift surgery, followed by a bone graft if necessary. While your mouth will be made numb so that you remain comfortable during your procedure, we also offer oral sedation to help calm anxious feelings. We recommend having someone drive you to and from your appointment if you decide on oral sedation for your sinus lift.
The procedure begins by making a small incision in the gum tissue to expose the bone. Then, the surgeon makes a small cut into the bone, avoiding the sinus membranes. The surgeon can then lift the cut portion of the bone, raise the floor of the sinus cavity, and place bone grafting material in the surgical area. The final step is to close the incision using sutures. We will provide you with post-op care instructions, although we recommend that you take it easy for the remainder of the day and avoid bending at the waist or heavy lifting. Once the numbness wears off, you will be able to eat anything that you like as long as it does not cause discomfort. However, you may find that eating soft and easy-to-chew foods is best for the first few days to a week following your surgery. Prepare to feel tenderness and some pain, although rest and over-the-counter pain relievers are usually enough to subside discomfort.
Plan on visiting our Sciota dental office approximately one week following your surgery for a post-op visit. It may take 4 to 12 months for the jawbone to heal completely.