A sinus lift – sometimes referred to as “sinus augmentation” — is a surgical procedure that involves adding bone to a patient’s upper jaw. The process involves moving the sinus membrane upward to make room for the additional bone tissue. This procedure is typically done by either a maxillofacial surgeon or a periodontist.
There are several reasons why a person may need a sinus lift, but primarily it is done so that the patient can accommodate dental implants, which are often an excellent way to replace missing teeth. Patients who have lost molars in their upper jaw, but don’t have adequate bone tissue present to accommodate dental implants, may need a sinus lift to enable them to have their missing molars replaced with implants. Advanced gum disease often results in bone loss. And tooth loss itself can reduce the amount of bone tissue present as well.
Dental implants are a great way to replace missing teeth since they are permanent, and they look, feel and function exactly the same as a person’s natural teeth. An implant consists of a metal rod that is implanted into a person’s jawbone. After several months, the metal fuses to the bone, creating in essence an artificial tooth root. After that, the dental professional simply affixes an artificial tooth (crown) to the top of the implant. The result is a new, permanent replacement for a missing tooth.
But if a person doesn’t have sufficient bone tissue to accommodate the metal rod, additional bone tissue needs to be added. Often, bone tissue comes from the patient’s own body, but it can also come from a cow bone or a cadaver, for example. The sinus lift procedure involves exposing the bone tissue in the back upper portion of the patient’s mouth, then gently pushing the sinus membrane up and away from the jaw. The next step involves adding bone graft material to the space where the sinus was, then suturing the incision and waiting for the grafted bone material to fuse with the existing jawbone. This process typically takes several months, after which the patient’s dentist can begin the implant procedure.
While there’s no doubt that the whole procedure takes many months to complete, the end result is often well worth the wait for the patient. Implants are very much like getting brand new natural teeth. They don’t require any special care or cleaning aside from regular brushing and flossing. They look completely natural and are extremely durable, often lasting for a lifetime.