Is A Sinus Lift Required For Dental Implants?

Sep 02, 2022
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Dental implants are the gold standard for permanent tooth replacement. However, if you have suffered significant bone loss in the upper jaw, you may need a sinus prior to getting implants. Learn more.

Dental implants are the gold standard for permanent tooth replacement. Increasing numbers of people choose them over dentures to comfortably speak, chew and smile. 

However, if you have suffered significant bone loss in the upper jaw, you may need a sinus lift before your dental implants are placed. The most common reasons for this include:

  • The bone has receded as a result of tooth loss
  •  Periodontal disease
  •  A tumor or cyst
  •  A complex extraction
  • Trauma
  • You naturally have a thin jawbone or large sinus cavities
  • If you previously had sinus surgery and too much bone was removed
  • If there isn't enough bone, the implants can fail over time.

What Is A Sinus Lift?

A sinus lift is a fairly common procedure that grafts bone to the upper jaw in the space between the molars and premolars. To make room for the extra bone tissue, the sinuses have to be moved upward ('lifted').

The sinuses are two hollow, air-filled cavities that sit on either side of the nose above a part of the jawbone called the maxilla. The maxilla lies closest to the teeth, and it is this part that gets lifted.

How Do I Know I Need A Sinus Lift?

Your dentist will perform a comprehensive examination of your mouth and jaw to determine whether a sinus lift is needed. They will take dental x-rays and may need to perform CT scans to assess the current condition of your jaw.

What To Expect During A Sinus Lift Procedure

Before performing a sinus lift, your dental surgeon will first determine where they will get the extra bone. It could come from a number of sources, such as:

  • Autogenous bone - from your own body (possibly from other parts of your mouth but also elsewhere in your body)
  • Allogenic bone - from a cadaver
  • Xenograft – bone from a cow
  • Hydroxyapatite - a synthetic material 

A sinus lift is performed under local anesthetic, so you will not be put to sleep. However, if you feel anxious, you may be given a sedative to relax you.

The procedure typically takes around one to two hours to perform and includes the following steps:

  1.  The dental surgeon will make an incision in the gum tissue.
  2. This tissue is raised to expose the bone underneath.
  3. The surgeon then drills a small hole in the bone.
  4. The bony piece is lifted into the sinus cavity, and the hole is filled with a graft of bone material.
  5. The surgeon closes the gap with stitches.
  6. The healing process begins.

You will not receive your dental implants on the same day as your sinus lift. You will need to wait for at least a few months. This gives the new bone time to fuse correctly with your existing bone.

The time you will have to wait between your sinus lift and receiving your dental implants depends on several factors, such as how much extra bone was needed.

Sinus Lift Recovery

Immediately after your sinus lift procedure, you may experience some discomfort and swelling around the eyes and cheeks. You may even bleed from your mouth and nose.

Don't worry. These things are common following a sinus lift. You will probably feel uncomfortable for a few days but shouldn't experience any major discomfort. If the pain continues and the bleeding lasts more than a few days, you should contact your dentist immediately.

While a sinus lift is considered safe, a few complications are possible, as they are with any surgery. They include tearing or puncturing the sinus membrane and infection.

Tips For A Smooth Recovery Period

You must take care of yourself and any part of your body that has undergone surgery. The following tips will help you recover from your sinus lift.

  1. Pay attention to the post-operative recovery advice given to you by your dentist.
  2. Do not spit or rinse your mouth during the first 24 hours of your procedure. Doing so can disturb the blood clot or open the wound.
  3. After 24 hours, rinse your mouth with salt water several times a day.
  4. Do not brush the surgical site for 48 hours. After that, gently brush the area.
  5. Maintain good oral hygiene throughout your recovery period and going forward.

After your surgery, you should try to avoid the following activities:

  • Don't blow your nose for several weeks. Doing so can cause the bone graft to move and loosen any stitches.
  • Try not to sneeze frequently. If you have to sneeze, do so with your mouth open to avoid extra pressure in the nasal cavity.
  • For at least 3 to 4 weeks, avoid playing any musical instrument that involves blowing and don’t travel in a pressurized aircraft.
  • If you are a scuba diver, put the activity on hold for at least a month.

Final Thoughts

If you need a sinus lift before going ahead with the dental implant procedure, there is nothing to fear. It is a straightforward procedure that prepares your mouth for dental implants if you have suffered significant jawbone loss. A sinus lift creates stronger bone for your replacement teeth.

If you have any questions about sinus lifts and dental implants or want to schedule an appointment, please get in touch today! Contact us at (314) 936 3621 or make a booking online. We can conduct a thorough examination to determine whether a sinus lift is required before your dental implant procedure.