If you want dental implants to replace lost teeth, but your dentist suggested you undergo sinus augmentation first, here is what you need to know.
Sinus augmentation, also known as a sinus lift, is a type of surgery that adds bone to your upper jaw. Our Florida periodontist may recommend you undergo sinus augmentation if you cannot undergo dental implants because there is not enough bone height in your upper jaw or your sinuses are too close to your jaw. During the procedure, our doctor adds bone between your jaw and your maxillary sinuses, which are on either side of your nose. To make room for the bone, our periodontist moves your sinus membrane forward, or “lifts” the membrane to create more room.
There are several reasons you may need sinus augmentation. This procedure is helpful if you have lost teeth in your upper jaw, particularly the molars at the very back of your upper jaw. You may not realize it, but because of the anatomy of the human skull, the back of your upper jaw actually has less bone than does your lower jaw. The limited amount bone in the upper jaw makes it difficult to secure dental implants.
You can also lose bone to severe gum disease, known as periodontal disease. Losing a tooth can cause you to lose bone too, as your body begins to absorb your jawbone after you lose a tooth. If your teeth have been missing for a long time, there may not be enough bone left to place implants.
Sinus augmentation may be helpful if your maxillary sinus is too close to your upper jaw. The shape and size of the maxillary sinus varies from one person to the next, and the sinus can get larger as you age.
The procedure is becoming more common as a growing number of people opt for dental implants to replace missing teeth.
Preparing for Sinus Augmentation
The bone used in your sinus augmentation will come from one of three sources:
- Your own body (autogenous bone)
- A cadaver (allogeneic bone)
- A cow (xenograft)
If you will be using your own bone, the doctor will take it from another area of your body, particularly from your hip or shin bone.
The doctor will take x-rays and other imaging tests in order to study the anatomy of your jaw. These tests allow the dentist to measure the height and width of your existing bone and evaluate the health of your sinus.
The Sinus Augmentation Procedure
Your periodontist will cut the gum tissue from the area where your back teeth used to be, and then raise the gum tissue to expose the bone. The doctor will open a small, oval window in the bone and gently push the membrane lining your sinus up and away from your jaw. The dental professional will then pack granules of bone-graft material into the space where the sinus was. Your periodontist will add several millimeters of bone above your jaw then close the tissue with stitches. You can schedule your dental implants four to nine months later, which allows time for the grafted material to mesh with your bone.
You may experience some swelling of the area after the procedure. Bleeding may occur. Do not blow your nose or sneeze forcefully, as either action could dislocate the bone-graft material or loosen stitches. Use the saline spray provided by your periodontist to keep the inner lining of your nose wet. Use prescribed medication to prevent congestion and inflammation. Pain medicine prevents discomfort while antibiotics and an antimicrobial mouthwash prevent infection. Most patients experience minimal discomfort after sinus augmentation.
Follow up with your periodontist seven to ten days after sinus augmentation for evaluation and removal of stitches if necessary. Subsequent follow-up appointments are sometimes necessary.
Risks of Sinus Augmentation
The primary risk of sinus augmentation is puncture or tearing of the sinus membrane. If this occurs, the surgeon will stitch or patch the tear.
As with any surgical procedure, infection is a risk. Infection after sinus augmentation rarely occurs, however.
Poor integration between the existing bone and the bone graft material may occur, and this can prevent the area from developing a new blood supply. Like other tissue, bones rely on oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to grow properly. Without blood, the bone graft material cannot thrive well enough to support dental implants.
For more information on sinus augmentation, contact our Vero Beach and Melbourne, FL, dental professionals at Vero VIP Implants & Periodontics. Make an appointment with Vero VIP Implants & Periodontics today by calling 772.569.9700