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All About a Sinus Lift

All About a Sinus Lift

A sinus lift isn’t a cosmetic procedure; it’s a bone-grafting surgery oral surgeons use to create enough space in your mouth to install dental implants to replace missing teeth.

At Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi in Flowood, board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Michael Nichols uses sinus lifts to help our patients who are missing teeth restore their oral health and beautiful smile with dental implants

Dental implants are a comfortable and permanent solution to missing teeth. The titanium screw forms a new “root,” providing a strong foundation for crowns or implant-supported dentures, while keeping the jaw healthy and strong. And unlike most other tooth replacement options, implants can last a lifetime.

What are the sinuses?

The word “sinus” comes from Latin, meaning a “curve, fold, or hollow.” Sinuses, therefore, are simply hollow, air-filled cavities. While they can occur throughout the body, for the purposes of this blog, we’ll refer to them as the cavities inside the skull that are connected to the nasal passage.

Humans have four pairs of sinuses, but they’re often referred to as a single unit called the "paranasal sinuses." The lining of each pair contains mucus-secreting cells and some immune system cells, as well as cilia — fine, hair-like cells that sweep mucus, trapped particles, and pathogens from inside the passages and out into the nose for discharge.

The sinuses are important for a number of reasons. They:

They’re also important when it comes to dental implants.

Why would I need a sinus lift?

The roots of some of your upper teeth extend up into the sinuses. When you lose a tooth, or if you have one extracted, there’s often only a thin wall of bone separating the sinuses from the mouth. This wall is too thin to hold a dental implant in place, so the bone needs to be augmented before the implants can be placed successfully.

A sinus lift is a common bone-grafting procedure for patients who have bone loss in the upper jaw due to atrophy or periodontal disease. The procedure helps to grow new bone tissue in the floor of your maxillary sinus, located just above the bony ridge of your gum line that secures the teeth in the upper jaw. Once the graft fuses with your jaw, Dr. Nichols can successfully place the dental implants.

Where does the bone graft come from?

If Dr. Nichols determines you’re a good candidate for sinus lift surgery, he first plans out where the bone graft will come from. The four most common sources for this surgery are:

  1. Autogenous: bone from your own body (other areas of mouth, or from the body)
  2. Allogenic: bone from a cadaver
  3. Xenograft: bone from a cow
  4. Synthetic: a biocompatible bone-like material

What happens during a sinus lift procedure?

Dr. Nichols performs sinus lift surgery at his office under local anaesthesia, though patients may request sedation if they feel more comfortable being unaware of what’s going on.

The doctor starts by making a small incision on the premolar or molar region, which exposes the jaw bone. Next, he cuts a small opening in the bone and pushes the sinus membrane lining upward. Then, he fills the underlying space with bone-grafting material, either natural bone or a bone-like substitute. Finally, he sutures the area and leaves it to heal.

You may have to wait for several months (about 4-12) for the graft to mature (fuse with the existing bone) before he can place the implants.

The recovery process

Most people are only mildly uncomfortable after their sinus lift. You might have some swelling and possibly some light bleeding from the nose and/or mouth for a few days. Try not to blow your nose or sneeze (if at all possible), as these can shift the bone graft and loosen the stitches.

Dr. Nichols may give you any or all of the following:

You make a follow-up appointment for about 7-10 days after your surgery so Dr. Nichols can examine the surgical site to ensure proper healing and remove any stitches that haven’t dissolved on their own.

If you’re looking to get dental implants for missing upper teeth, you may first need a sinus lift to maximize the amount of bone in your jaw to hold them securely in place. To learn more, and to schedule a consultation with Dr. Nichols about the procedures, call our office at 601-282-9290 today.

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