In certain circumstances, your dentist might schedule a sinus augmentation procedure before dental implants can be placed. Otherwise known as a sinus lift, this procedure might be necessary for those who have experienced bone loss in the upper jaw, since the implants might otherwise not have enough bone to be placed securely. If you are considering implants as a permanent tooth replacement, ask your dentist for an upper jaw bone density analysis to see if you will need a lift before proceeding.
When is sinus augmentation needed?
Benefits of dental implants
Dental implants are currently the gold standard when it comes to tooth replacement. Unlike dentures, implants can look, feel and perform in very similar ways to natural teeth. Instead of worrying about removal and replacement, implants are a permanent solution. The care of implants is similar to that of natural teeth, so they are considered low-maintenance. Most importantly, some of the long-term pain and discomfort that are associated with dentures can be reduced by replacement implants. Since each implant crown is designed and molded to fit the patient’s mouth, the result is a beautiful smile that resembles one with natural teeth.
Who needs a sinus lift?
Dental implants can involve only one tooth or can involve an entire mouth of tooth replacement. In cases when implants are being inserted to replace an entire row of teeth, the implants are often replacing full or partial dentures. Patients seeking implants to replace the entire row of upper teeth will often need a sinus lift due to bone loss in the upper jaw. If teeth have been missing for an extended period of time, bone loss in the jaw has likely occurred. In order to add a bone graft in the jaw that will be able to support tooth implants, the sinus cavity must first be lifted to make room. For some individuals, the sinuses are naturally located in close proximity to the teeth, so even if additional bone loss has not occurred, augmentation might be necessary before moving forward with the implant process.
Sinus augmentation process
The sinus lift process is completed over several steps, with healing time allocated between each one. A consultation will be needed to see if the area that used to contain the molars and roots has receded too much to support the post of the implant. If so, additional bone will be needed before dental implants can be placed, and the only way to accomplish bone extension without extending into the mouth is to perform a lift of the sinus cavity in a series of surgical steps. Although different dentists have slightly different methods, the general process remains the same across practices:
- Open the gum tissue with an incision
- Push the sinus membrane upward
- Insert bone graft material
- Close incision around bone graft
- Wait for graft and tissue to fuse
Dental implants are a transformative method of teeth replacement. In cases where individuals have experienced bone loss, a sinus augmentation procedure should be performed to allow for proper implant placement. Although the process can initially be more intensive, implants are a permanent solution to tooth loss issues.
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