If you are considering dental implants to replace missing teeth in your upper jaw, your oral surgeon may have mentioned the need for a sinus lift procedure. If you don’t have enough bone in the upper jaw bone, this procedure is often necessary in order to provide space for a bone graft that will help support your dental implants.
While this surgical procedure is not necessarily painful, it can cause some discomfort and changes to your normal routine during the healing process.
To understand more, let’s take a closer look at the sinus lift procedure and what to expect.
- Learn what a sinus lift procedure is and why it is necessary.
- Walk through the steps of a sinus lift procedure.
- Understand what you can expect during the sinus lift procedure and your recovery.
What is a sinus lift?
A sinus lift, or sinus augmentation, is a surgical procedure designed to help support the placement of dental implants. When dental implants are placed into the jawbone, they need strong bone support in order to stay securely in place. Your maxillary sinus cavities are located right above your upper teeth and jawbone. These cavities are open spaces just above where your dental implants are placed. A sinus lift is designed up raise the sinus floor and allow for additional bone placement and growth to restore bone loss, through a graft. This provides the additional bone structure necessary for dental implant stabilization. Essentially, a sinus lift is a method of bone transplantation.
When do you need a sinus lift?
Natural teeth, such as molars, often reach into the maxillary sinus cavity, but when these teeth are lost or removed, only a thin wall of bone remains. This thin wall is often not enough to support dental implants and can increase the risk of implant failure. If your oral surgeon determines that this bone wall is too thin, a sinus lift may be necessary in order to allow for bone grafts that will help support implant placement.
What to expect with a sinus lift procedure
If your oral surgeon recommends a sinus lift, there are different stages of the procedure you will need to prepare for. Here we take a look at how you determine the steps of your sinus lift, what to expect during the procedure, and what happens during your recovery.
Before the procedure
Before your sinus lift is scheduled, your oral surgeon will need to take measurements and x-rays of your jaw in order to get a clearer picture of your jaw and sinus cavity anatomy. With this information, the surgeon can determine exactly what you need in terms of bone grafts in order to stimulate new bone growth and support your desired implants. Once this is determined, you and your surgeon will decide on your bone graft material. The four different bone grafting materials available for a sinus lift include:
- Autogenous bone: This is bone taken directly from another location of your body
- Allogenic bone: This is bone from a cadaver donor
- Xenograft: This is bone taken from a cow
- Artificial bone: This is a synthetic bone material
During the procedure
On the day of your sinus lift procedure, you will be joined by your surgical team. You will be given sedation by local and/or general anesthesia, so you should not experience any pain or discomfort during the procedure. Once you are under, your surgeon or periodontist will make a small incision in your jaw, exposing the jawbone. A small circle is cut into the bone which allows the surgeon to push your sinus membrane upwards, creating a space for the bone graft to be put in place. Once the graft is put in place and the hole is filled, the surgeon will close the incision with sutures.
After the procedure
When you awaken from anesthesia, you will receive aftercare instructions in order to promote healing and ensure that your bone grafts remain in place. You can expect to experience some swelling and bleeding at the surgical site, as well as some minor discomfort. This can be managed by pain medications and the application of ice packs and should resolve within a few days.
How painful is a sinus lift?
A sinus lift should not be painful at all. During the procedure, you will be under anesthesia and should not feel any pain. While you may experience some minor discomfort during the initial recovery, this can be managed by over-the-counter pain medications or prescription medications from your surgeon.
Recovering from sinus lift surgery
Recovery from a sinus lift procedure is a timely process. During the first few days, it is important to follow your aftercare instructions which can include saline sprays for your sinuses, antibiotic or antimicrobial mouthwash to prevent infection, and pain medication recommendations to reduce discomfort. You will also be told to avoid blowing your nose or sneezing if possible. During the first few days, it is important to keep the bone graft in place and the pressure created during nose blowing or sneezing can often dislodge your grafts or open stitches.
You should contact your surgeon if you experience swelling, pain, or bleeding that lasts more than three days, discomfort in the sinus cavity, or any signs of infection, such as fever or surgical site drainage.
After the first week, your surgeon will likely have you come in for a follow-up appointment to ensure you are healing properly and remove stitches if necessary. Complete recovery from a sinus lift can take over six months and additional follow-up visits are often necessary. Once healing is complete, you will be ready for your dental implant procedure and your new smile.
A sinus lift is the first step to your new smile
Sinus lift surgery creates the stable bone needed to support your dental implants and opens the door to your new smile. This pain-free procedure helps to build a strong foundation and increases the chances of your implant’s success. Your oral surgeon will work with you to determine the best plan of action, and, after a few months of recovery, you will be ready for your new smile.
Learn more about a dental implant today
At Soundview Family Dental, we understand the importance of good oral health and a beautiful smile. If tooth loss has you considering dental implants, our team of caring professionals will work with you to determine the best plan of action, including a sinus lift, if necessary. To learn more about how we can help you get the smile you want, schedule an appointment today.