What is a Sinus?
The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper teeth. These sinuses are empty, air-filled spaces. Some of the roots of the natural upper teeth extend up into the maxillary sinuses. When these upper teeth are removed, there is often just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. Dental implants need bone to hold them in place. When the sinus wall is very thin, it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone. The site lacks sufficient support for a dental implant.
The Sinus Augmentation Procedure:
The key to a successful and long-lasting dental implant is the quality and quantity of jawbone supporting the dental implants. If bone loss has occurred due to injury or periodontal disease, a sinus augmentation can raise the sinus floor, allowing for new bone formation. Many patients are initially concerned that the added bone into the sinus with disrupt breathing. The maxillary right sinus and the maxillary left sinus are both large openings. Breathing is not interupted. Some patients even find that their breathing improves because the sinus floor is now level, permitting the sinus to drain easier than it did before the procedure.
In the most common sinus augmentation procedure, a small incision is made at the premolar or molar region to expose the jawbone. A small opening is made into the bone, the soft tissue membrane lining the sinus is gently elevated within the sinus opening. The underlying space is filled with bone grafting material, either from your own body or from a commercially available processed donor. After the bone is implanted, the incision is closed with sutures and the healing process begins. The implants may be placed on the same day, when the sinus lift is completed. Or after several months of healing, the bone becomes part of the patient’s jaw and then the dental implants are inserted and stabilized in this new sinus bone.
When enough of your own natural bone is present to sufficiently stabilize the implant, sinus augmentations and implant placements can be performed as a single procedure. If there isn’t enough bone available to stabilize the implant fixture, the sinus augmentation will have to be performed first before any implants are placed. Once the sinus floor graft has matured, the implants can be restored with teeth.
The sinus graft procedure makes it possible for many more patients who were not candidates for implants previously to have dental implants. For those patients who dislike their dentures, this is always a welcoming opportunity.