Hearing your dentist talk about a sinus lift procedure can be confusing. After all, your sinuses have to do with breathing, not chewing or smiling. However, the maxillary sinuses sit right above the back area of your upper jaw. Because of this, they can come into play when it comes to getting a dental implant.
Caesar Sweidan, DDS, and Laura Smith, DDS, at Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants in Gulfport, Mississippi, use the most advanced equipment available to diagnose and treat oral health issues. In this blog post, we explain what a sinus lift is and why it’s performed.
The purpose of a sinus lift
You have two maxillary sinuses, and these air-filled cavities are located on each side of your face near the back of your upper jaw. Sometimes, due to a variety of reasons, a section of jawbone on either side can become too thin, and the sinus cavity above can expand downward and take up the space. Consequently, there might not be enough bone mass for a dental implant.
With a sinus lift, Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith open a channel in your upper jaw bone to where the sinus cavity has expanded. Then they lift up the sinus cavity and put in a bone graft to fill in the newly opened area. The overall goal is to create enough healthy bone in the area to support a dental implant.
Once the graft heals, Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith can place your dental implant. First, they insert a metal post into the newly created bone tissue, which will act as your new tooth’s root. Then, Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith attach what’s called an abutment to the top of the post. Finally, Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith secure your new crown to the abutment, completing your dental implant procedure.
Reasons for jaw tissue loss
A person can lose jawbone tissue for several reasons. Sometimes, it has to do with natural structural variations present from birth that cause large sinus cavities or a very thin jawbone. Or, it can be due to a health issue, such as cancer. However, one primary cause has to do with periodontal disease.
When you have periodontal disease — or gum disease — you have a severe infection in the soft tissue of your mouth. This condition can destroy the bone supporting your teeth if not treated, putting you at risk for tooth loss.Also, in a natural atrophic process called pneumatization, the sinuses tend to expand into areas of missing upper back teeth.
And, unfortunately, this can make the situation even worse for your jawbone health. That’s because losing a tooth and not replacing it increases your chances of suffering more bone and tooth loss.
What to expect during a sinus lift
As mentioned, during a sinus lift procedure, we make a small opening in your upper palate bone and gently raise the air-filled membrane. Then we insert bone graft materials into the newly created space and close the small opening.
It can take anywhere from 4-12 months for your jawbone to heal from a sinus lift. In some cases, we can place your dental implant post at the same time as performing your sinus lift. However, it’s also common to wait until your jaw heals completely before getting your implant.
The good news is that a sinus lift typically comes with very little discomfort. You should also try to avoid blowing your nose or sneezing, drinking from a straw, and smoking.
When to consider a sinus lift
The main reason to get a sinus lift involves restoring lost jawbone to support a dental implant or to repair deterioration from periodontal disease. But, you don’t have to determine if you’re a good candidate on your own.
Before recommending this procedure, we perform digital X-rays and a special CT scan, so we can have precise measurements of your jawbone density. If you have less than 4-6 millimeters of bone height in the back area of your jaw, it’s likely you could benefit from a sinus lift procedure.
However, you can rest easy knowing that we’ll clearly explain your dental issues and the best treatment options available to restore your oral health.
Do you have missing teeth or gum disease? We can give you a thorough evaluation and design a plan to restore your oral health. To learn more, call 228-868-9615 or request an appointment online with Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants today.