Sinus Lift (Augmentation) Surgery

What is a Sinus Lift?

The maxillary sinuses are located in the upper jaw and above the roots of your back teeth. A sinus is an empty, air-filled space. Some of the roots of the our upper teeth extend up into the maxillary sinuses. When these upper teeth are removed, there is often just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. When the sinus wall is very thin, it is not possible to place dental implants in this bone.

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The key to a long-lasting success of a dental implant is the quality and quantity of jawbone to which the implant will be attached. If there is insufficient bone height from the sinus (due to old age, trauma, tooth decay, or periodontal disease), then a sinus augmentation procedure is recommended. A sinus lift can raise the sinus floor and allow for new bone formation. A sinus lift is one of the most common bone grafting procedures for patients with bone loss in the upper jaw. The procedure seeks to grow bone in the floor of the maxillary sinus above the bony ridge of the gum line that anchors the teeth in the upper jaw. By strengthening and growing bone in this location, dental implants can be placed and secured in the new bone growth.

Am I a candidate for a Sinus Lift?

A sinus lift may be necessary if you:

  • are missing more than one tooth in the back of your jaw.
  • are missing a significant amount of bone in the back of your jaw.
  • are missing teeth due to a birth defect or condition.
  • are missing most of the maxillary teeth, but require support for dental implants.

How is this procedure completed?

In the most common sinus augmentation procedure, a small incision is made on the premolar or molar region to expose the jawbone. A small opening is cut into the bone, and the membrane lining the sinus is pushed upward. The underlying space is filled with bone grafting material, either from your own body or from a cadaver. After the bone is implanted, the incision is stitched up and the healing process begins. After several months of healing, the bone becomes part of the patient’s jaw and dental implants can be inserted and stabilized in this new sinus bone.

If enough bone is present between the upper jaw ridge and the bottom of the sinus to stabilize the implant, sinus augmentations and implant placement can sometimes be performed as a single procedure. If not enough bone is available, the sinus augmentation will have to be performed first, then the graft will have to mature for several months, depending upon the type of graft material used. Once the graft has matured, the implants can be placed. 

A sinus augmentation is generally performed under local anesthesia. However, some patients also may request oral or intravenous sedative medication as well.