Sinus Lifts

What Is A Maxillary Sinus Lift?

The maxillary sinus is a hollow area lined by a thin membrane. It is present in each side of the upper jaw (just above the area where the molar teeth would be located). When the upper molars are missing, bone volume (height or width) is often inadequate for dental implants, but is usually manageable with a graft. Sinus grafting for dental implant placement has been studied since the late 1970’s , and with improved techniques has become incorporated as one of many periodontal surgical procedures. After radiographic and clinical evaluation, the surgery involves creating an opening into that part of the sinus cavity located under the gum. The sinus membrane is then lifted upwards, and graft material is placed into that portion of the sinus cavity to encourage your own bone formation. Implant placement is usually postponed until the graft site has sufficiently matured (about 9 months), allowing your bone to gradually replace the graft material. However, in some instances, immediate placement of the implant is possible and indeed preferable. Implants can then be placed after this time, and they are allowed to heal into the mature graft site 3-5 months. Success rates for implants placed in the grafted area compare favorably with the good success rates associated with uncomplicated implant procedure.

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What Are The Chances Of Success?

Success rates for sinus grafts (and ultimately the implants placed into them) are generally very high, although there is no method to accurately predict the acceptance of a bone graft or implant for each individual’s clinical situation.

The healing capacity and bone quality/quantity between individuals can vary considerably, and in some patients, grafts, or implants may fail, ultimately resulting in a dental restoration that is considerably different from what was originally planned.

Patient Factors

Excessive smoking or alcohol consumption, poorly controlled diabetes, and certain other medical conditions, poor bone quality, certain medications, recent chemotherapy, radiation therapy to the head and neck area, excessive biting forces, high sugar intake, and poor oral hygiene may affect the outcome of many dental procedures, including sinus graft/implant surgery.

Side Effects and Complications

Post-operative pain is usually mild to moderate during the first few days to about one week. Expect post-operative swelling during the first week. Some noticeable facial discoloration (“black and blue”) can occur, lasting a few days. Some nasal stuffiness may occur during the early healing period.

Occasionally, there can be complications related to the surgery. Such possibilities include:

  • Significant post-operative pain or swelling
  • Sinus membrane perforation during surgery, or infection after surgery, resulting in poor or delayed healing, graft failure, chronic sinus congestion, or communication with the sinus and oral cavity. Additional surgical procedures could be required.
  • Injury to natural teeth, or an alteration in sensation to the teeth or gums, the duration of which may not be predictable and may be reversible. Unfavorable anatomic conditions encountered during surgery may affect the ┬ádesired result