Sinus lift surgery involves having bone added to the upper jaw, and this bone is generally placed in an area which supports the rear teeth, i.e. the molars and pre-molars. The bone is added in the area between the maxillary sinuses and the jawbone, and in order to make room for the bone being added, it will be necessary to move the sinus membranes upward. It's generally necessary to perform sinus lift surgery when the sinuses are too close to the jaw, the bone height is too short on the upper jaw, or when dental implants are being installed, and it's necessary to make more room.
Traditional sinus augmentation is sometimes referred to as the lateral window technique, and it's performed in a patient's mouth by making an incision into the gum line. Once this incision has been made, a surgeon will be able to pull back gum tissue, so as to expose the lateral bone-like wall of the sinus. This procedure is also used to facilitate the installation of dental implants, where there is not enough bone mass in the jaw above the molars which would be available to support the implant.
Since this procedure is basically a bone transplant, bone from one area will be removed and placed in the upper jaw. That means the first step is to identify where the transplanted bone material will come from. Once the bone source has been determined, your dentist will take some time to carefully study the anatomy of your sinus and your jaw. It will be necessary to take accurate measurements, so that the height and width of your existing bone can be evaluated. Once this bone source has been identified, and measurements have been taken, the procedure can move forward.
During the actual process, approximately 90 minutes to two hours will be consumed in accomplishing the sinus augmentation. First a patient will be sedated using some kind of local or general anesthesia. Then the oral surgeon will make an incision in the gum tissue in the area of your back teeth, so as to expose the jawbone. With the jawbone exposed and the tissue raised, an oral surgeon will then cut a small circle in the bone, so that the membrane of the sinuses can be gently pushed on. When the bony piece gets lifted into the sinus cavity, the hole can then be filled with the previously procured bone graft. This will complete the procedure, and the surgeon will then close up the incision using a number of sutures.
With the surgery complete, a patient will be able to go home after they recover from the anesthesia. There may be some swelling and bleeding in the immediate aftermath, but only minimal discomfort. During the recovery period, it will be very important to keep the bone graft in place, so patients should try to avoid sneezing or blowing their nose. Your doctor will probably provide you with a saline spray to keep your nose moist, as well as a prescription which will prevent swelling or congestion, and possibly a pain-killer medication. You will have a follow-up appointment with your dentist within 7 to 10 days after surgery, and at this time this surgery site will be closely examined to see how successful it was.
Given the fact that it's a surgical procedure, sinus augmentation does involve at least a few relatively minor risks. The main issue would be tearing or piercing the membrane, and if this happens, additional surgery would be necessary to repair it before augmentation can proceed. More often, the greater risk is in developing a sinus infection, but your dentist will probably provide you with medication which should prevent this from happening.
If you think you may need sinus augmentation as a preparatory step to having a dental implant installed, contact us today at ZircTeeth, so we can examine your teeth and determine whether or not you're a good candidate. During your call, we'll also be happy to answer any questions you may have about the procedure.