Sinus GraftingThe maxillary sinus spaces are located behind the cheeks and above the upper posterior teeth. Sinuses are like empty rooms that have nothing in them. Some of the roots of the natural upper teeth extend up close or into the floor” of the maxillary sinuses. When these upper teeth are removed, additional shrinkage” of the bone (sinus enlargement) will occur within the sinus areas as healing occurs and the aging process continues. A significant deficiency in the thickness of the jawbone becomes evident, especially when an implant is to be placed. Over time this shrinkage” of bone will result in a thin wall of bone separating the floor” of 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 augmentation or sinus lift graft. The sinus is surgically accessed from the previous tooth position in the mouth. The sinus membrane (which is an internal lining inside the sinus cavity) is then loosened and lifted” or pushed upward and a contained space” is created. Bone graft material can now be inserted to fill this newly created space for the future implants. After several months of healing, the bone graft transforms” or becomes part of the patients 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 the remaining bone between the upper jaw ridge and the bottom (floor) of the sinus is deficient, but adequate to initially stabilize the implant well, sinus augmentations and 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, then the graft will have to mature for several months, depending upon the type of graft material used. Once the graft has matured, the implants can be placed.