The sinuses are a system of spaces located in the upper part of your face. The largest are called the two maxillary sinuses, which are on either side of your nose, just below your cheekbones. This pair of sinuses may be affected by dental work. When considering an implant in the upper jaw, the proximity of the intended implant to the sinuses as well as the mass of the jaw bone itself must be considered.
A sinus lift is a surgical procedure that expands the upper jaw in the sinus area by grafting bone around the premolars and molars as preparation for a successful dental implant. As a preliminary step, a sinus lift (also called sinus augmentation) may be needed for a couple of reasons:
- You do not currently have enough bone height in the upper jaw
- Your sinuses are too close to the jaw
This procedure is performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon or other specialist as the first step. You will need to plan this step several months prior to your implant procedure, so that your bone height is adequate for the implant.
How and why is bone height lost?
Bone height typically is lost as the result of advanced periodontal disease (gum disease), a condition that causes many people to lose teeth in the upper jaw, especially the back teeth or molars. Losing these teeth reduces the height of the bone itself, as well as destroying the connection with the tooth. When someone has lost teeth in the upper jaw, the remaining bone mass may not be sufficient to support an implant, so bone tissue must be surgically augmented with a bone graft.
First, to make space for the added bone, the sinus membrane has to be moved up, or lifted. Granules of bone-graft material then are surgically placed into the area. With time, the grafted material will gradually mesh with your natural bone as it grows. When the graft is fully stable, the implant may be placed. Begin by consulting your dentist, who can begin the process.