The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper teeth. Sinuses are like empty rooms that have nothing in them. Some of the roots of the natural upper teeth extend 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. Dental implants need bone to hold them in place. When the sinus wall is very thin, it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone.
There is a solution called a sinus graft or sinus lift graft. The dental implant surgeon enters the sinus from where the upper teeth used to be. The sinus membrane is then lifted upward and donor bone is inserted into the floor of the sinus. Keep in mind that the floor of the sinus is the roof of the upper jaw. 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.
The sinus graft makes it possible for many patients to have dental implants when years ago there was no other option other than wearing loose dentures.
If there is enough bone between the upper jaw ridge and the bottom of the sinus to stabilize the dental implant, sinus augmentations and dental 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, and the graft will have to mature for several months, depending upon the type of graft material used. Once the graft has matured, the dental implants can be placed.
If you are missing a small to moderate amount of bone a more conservative sinus lift procedure can be performed using osteotomes. This procedure is usually done simultaneously with dental implant placement and adds minimal time to the implant placement visit.
Dr. Pack provides Sinus Lift Procedures in his Midtown Manhattan Park Avenue office location in NYC.