The road to strong and healthy dental implants isn’t always simple, but when necessary, a sinus lift procedure is definitely a step on the road to a full and healthy smile. This relatively common procedure makes it possible to enjoy the full benefits of dental implants, even after significant bone loss.
We will break down each step of the sinus lift procedure, recovery, risks, costs, and commonly asked questions to give you all the information you need to know.
What is a Sinus Lift Procedure?
A sinus lift, also called sinus augmentation, is a procedure that makes it easier to place dental implants. Some patients need dental implants but have suffered bone loss, thus not having sufficient bone support necessary for implants. You can get the support you need by having a sinus augmentation.
This procedure increases the amount of bone in the upper jaw that is required for dental implants. This is one of the most common bone grafting procedures for dental implant patients.
Often times, sinus augmentations are one of the many procedures done during a full mouth reconstruction.
Who Needs A Sinus Augmentation?
Over the last 25 years, dental implants have become more readily available, making them an increasingly common dental procedure. As more people get dental implants to replace missing teeth, sinus lifts also have become more common.
A sinus augmentation may be necessary if you are missing teeth and jawbone in the back of your jaw, near your sinuses. Jawbone and teeth in this area could be lost due to birth defects, periodontal disease, cancer, other medical conditions, or just the natural healing process. A sinus lift can also be used if your sinuses are too close to your upper jaw and you need more space to place the implant.
What Happens Before a Sinus Augmentation Procedure?
A sinus lift is basically a bone transplant. You’re using a bone from one place and using it in your upper jaw. The first step is to determine where the bone used in the surgery will come from. The three most common types of bone used in sinus lift surgeries are:
- Bone from your own body (autogenous bone) usually taken from other areas of your mouth or body.
- Bone from a cadaver (allogenic bone)
- Bone from a cow (xenograft)
- A synthetic bone-like material
After the bone source is identified, your surgeon and/or dental specialist will take great care to study the anatomy of your jaw and sinus. Accurate measurements will be taken to evaluate the height and width of your existing bone and to evaluate your sinus. Once the doctor and you have chosen the bone to use, they will move forward with the procedure.
What Happens During the Sinus Augmentation Procedure?
The sinus lift procedure is a safe and straightforward procedure. A sinus augmentation is generally performed at the prosthodontist’s or oral surgeon’s office. The entire process takes between 90 minutes to two hours.
- First, the patient is sedated using local and/or general anesthesia. If necessary, a doctor may use nitrous oxide, but this is less common.
- Next, the surgeon will cut the gum tissue where your back teeth used to be to expose the jawbone.
- With the tissue raised, and the jawbone exposed, the surgeon will cut a small circle in the bone through which they can gently push on the membrane of the sinuses.
- As the bony piece is lifted into the sinus cavity space the hole is filled with the previously determined bone graft.
- After this is done, the procedure is complete and the surgeon will close the incision with sutures.
What Happens After a Sinus Augmentation?
Patients are able to go home after they wake from the anesthesia. After the sinus lift procedure, most patients experience a little swelling and bleeding, but only minimal discomfort. The most important part of recovery is to keep the bone graft in place, so it’s important to avoid blowing your nose (or sneezing, if possible) Either of these things could cause the bone-graft material to move and loosen the stitches.
When you go home, you will likely get a saline spray to keep your nose moist, a prescription to prevent congestion and swelling, a prescription for pain medicine, an antibiotic, and/or an antimicrobial mouthwash to help prevent infection. Most patients will be in bed with ice around the area for a day or so until they can resume normal activities.
You will have a follow-up appointment with the dental specialist 7-10 days after your surgery. During this appointment, the specialist will examine the surgical site and may remove any stitches that have not dissolved on their own. In some cases, patients are asked to return a few more times just to make sure the area is healing properly and to take necessary x-ray images.
A full recovery from a sinus lift takes a minimum of 6 months for the sinuses to heal and the bone to be strong enough to support dental implants. Although the process may seem slow, you are working towards results that will last a lifetime.
How Much Does A Sinus Augmentation Cost?
The cost for a sinus lift is usually between $1,500 for a small and simple lift to $5,000 for more complicated cases. Where there is more bone graft material required, the cost of the surgery typically increases. You want to ensure you are working with a thorough and qualified professional when considering major surgery.
Risks of a Sinus Augmentation Procedure
A sinus lift is a surgical procedure and therefore carries some inherent risks. The main risk of this surgery is the piercing or tearing of the membrane. If this happens, it can be repaired and the surgery can continue. Sometimes, in the case of a larger tear, the membrane would need to be given time to heal before the lift can take place again later.
The bigger risk is a sinus infection. Your surgeon will give you medication to protect against this and you should be careful not to sneeze or blow your nose too heavily to avoid moving the bone graft material or dislodge your stitches. For this reason, we don’t recommend getting a sinus augmentation during your allergy season.
Sinus Augmentation FAQs