Sinus lifts

This type of bone graft is performed to increase bone density in the upper jaw. It is often performed to enable the placement of dental implants and involves the lifting of the sinus membrane to allow enough room for the new bone.

What is a sinus lift?

It is a specific type of bone graft, often carried out as part of the dental implant process, in which donor bone is grafted onto areas of bone on either side of your nose. These areas are where the sinuses are located.

The bone graft is usually carried out to increase the volume of bone is the upper jaw which has reduced due to missing teeth, defect in the sinuses (too near the upper jaw) due to the ageing process or gum disease.

How is a sinus lift performed?

This starts with a series of x-rays and possibly a CT scan of your jaw and sinus areas. The aim is to obtain an accurate set of measurements of your bone structure for the graft.

This is followed by an incision in your gum tissue which is then lifted and pushed to one side. This enables the dentist to view the jawbone and sinuses.

The sinuses contain a lining (membrane) which acts as a divider between your sinuses and jawbone. This membrane has to be lifted to one side to enable access for the bone graft.

The bone graft is then placed into this space. There are various types of bone graft but you are most likely to undergo an autograft (local bone graft) or an allograft (taken from a human donor).

The reason it is called a sinus lift is that the sinuses have to be lifted up and to one side during the procedure so that the new bone can be packed into this space.

Once the sinus lift is completed the area is then pushed back into place and closed with stitches.

Recovery period after a sinus lift

Some people experience swelling in their sinuses and some mild bleeding from their nose or mouth. Antibiotics and antibacterial mouthwash will be prescribed to deal with this.

Avoid blowing your nose during this time and use a special saline spray to keep the area wet within your nose.

The osseointegration process can take several months so be prepared to wait although this depends upon the type of graft you have had. If your own bone has been used, e.g. an autograft then this normally integrates the quickest.

What are the risks of a sinus lift?

This is a safe and effective procedure but there is a small amount of risk. What can happen is that the sinus membrane becomes ruptured or torn during the procedure or the new bone fails to graft.

Infections are another risk.

Thankfully, these are easily treated.

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