What Is It?

A sinus lift is surgery that adds bone to your upper jaw in the area of your molars and premolars. It's sometimes called a sinus augmentation. The bone is added between your jaw and the maxillary sinuses, which are on either side of your nose. To make room for the bone, the sinus membrane has to be moved upward, or "lifted."

What is it Used For?

A sinus lift is done when there is not enough bone height in the upper jaw, or the sinuses are too close to the jaw, for dental implants to be placed. There are several reasons for this:

  • Many people who have lost teeth in their upper jaw — particularly the back teeth, or molars — do not have enough bone for implants to be placed. Because of the anatomy of the skull, the back of the upper jaw has less bone than the lower jaw.
  • Bone may hove been lost because of periodontal (gum) disease.
  • Tooth loss may have led to a loss of bone as well. Once teeth are gone, bone begins to be resorbed (absorbed back into the body). If teeth have been missing for a long time, there is often not enough bone left to place implants.
  • The maxillary sinus may be too close to the upper jaw for implants to be placed, The shape and the size of this sinus varies from person to person. The sinus can also get larger as you age.

How it is Done?

The oral and maxillofacial surgeon will cut the gum tissue where your back teeth used to be. The tissue is raised, exposing the bone. A small, oval window is opened in the bone. The membrane lining the sinus on the other side of the window separates your sinus from your jaw, This membrane is gently pushed up and away from your jaw. Granules of bone-graft material are then packed into the space where the sinus was. The bone used in a sinus lift may come from your own body (autogenous bone), from a cadaver (allogeneic bone) or from cow bone (xenograft). The amount of bone used will vary, but usually several millimeters of bone is added above the jaw. Once the bone is in place, the tissue is closed with stitches. Your implants will be placed four to nine months later. This allows time for the grafted material to mesh with your bone. The amount of time depends on the amount of bone needed.

Follow-Up...

After the procedure, you may have some minor swelling of the area. Bleeding may occur from your mouth or nose. Do not blow your nose or sneeze forcefully. Either one could cause the bone-graft material to move, and loosen the stitches. After a sinus lift, you need to wait several months for the bony material to harden and integrate with your jaw. Depending on the grafting material used, implants may be placed in four to nine months. 

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