Sinus Lift

A sinus lift is a procedure in which bone is augmented into the sinus space of the posterior maxilla to create vertical room for dental implants.

Sinus Lift

Sinus lift is a procedure in which bone is added to the posterior upper to create vertical room for dental implants.

Table of Contents

What is a Sinus Lift?

Your sinus cavity is essentially a large hollow airspace, lined by a thin membrane around a thin layer of bone contained within your maxilla/upper jaw. Think of a balloon but with a shell on the outside. The sinus cavity normally sits above the roots of your upper teeth, especially the back teeth where the molars are. Depending on a variety of factors, including variations of normal anatomy, there can be a lot of space/bone in between the roots of your teeth and the sinus, or there can be much less space. In some cases, the roots of your teeth and your sinus cavity have less than a millimeter of bone separating the two. In other cases, the sinus can pneumatize, or expand into the areas in between your teeth, or where your teeth are missing, filling the jaw bone with air space. The only times the sinus is a factor in your dental treatment or health, is in cases of tooth infection spreading to the sinuses, or when the sinuses are in the way of placing a dental implant.

When the sinus is in the way of placing a dental implant, there is not sufficient bone to adequately support a dental implant due to the air space of the sinus cavity. This can be fixed by doing a procedure called a sinus lift. During the procedure, the bone is carefully drilled through without damaging the sinus membrane. The sinus membrane is then lifted, and a bone graft placed underneath. Quite often, a dental implant can be placed the same visit as the sinus lift procedure, so the two can heal together.

We specialize in minimally invasive sinus lift techniques and always strive to place the implant and perform the sinus lift in the same appointment for no additional discomfort.

What you should know before your Sinus Lift in Orange County

Before scheduling for a sinus lift procedure, you will first need to have a consultation. In order to properly plan the implant and sinus lift, a 3D or CBCT scan (cone beam computed tomography) is needed to evaluate the available bone, location of the sinus cavity, nerves, etc. We can take the scan at your consultation appointment, or if you have a recent scan, you may bring us a copy for us to interpret. We will go over the scan and results of the examination and whether you are a good candidate for minimally invasive approach for sinus grafting.

When we plan the sinus lift procedure, we strive to minimize the number of appointments and procedures needed – meaning we will try to plan on placing the implant and performing the bone grafting at the same appointment to minimize the overall healing/recovery period.

What happens during your Sinus Lift procedure?

Before we start the procedure, we will often give a single loading dose of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications, as studies show it can help with implant success.

What kind of anesthesia is used?

Most of the time, we do sinus lift procedures under local anesthesia. The area is numbed just like any other dental procedure. We also offer two additional sedative options. An oral sedative or anxiolytic can be prescribed for you to take an hour before the procedure, which will help calm you down and make you drowsy during the procedure. You may or may not remember the procedure afterward. Another sedation option we offer is “twilight” anesthesia. A board-certified dental anesthesiologist will administer medication through an IV line to make sure you are safely sedated and asleep during the entire procedure.

The surgical procedure

After the area is numbed, an incision is made in the  gums and the soft tissue reflected from the bone. Whenever possible, we utilize  minimally invasive techniques for sinus lifting.  We utilize special burs that densify the bone during the osteotomy/drilling preparation for the implant. The sinus membrane is carefully lifted and bone added and the dental implant is placed. The sinus lift is performed entirely during the preparation for the implant with no additional surgical sites or discomfort. The sinus graft heals with and fuses with the dental implant. 

In cases where a substantial amount of sinus augmentation is required and cannot be performed through the implant osteotomy, a lateral window or external approach can be utilized. A window is made on the side of the maxilla, and the sinus membrane and cavity carefully lifted. A large amount of bone Can be grafted into the sinus. The dental implant will be placed if there is enough native bone for stability. A resorbable membrane is draped over the window and the gums repositioned and stitched together

Sinus Lift recovery and results: what to expect

With most of our minimally invasive sinus lifts, there is no additional pain or discomfort. The recovery is typical of that for a dental implant. For larger augmentations, you may have some soreness, swelling, or bruising afterwards, although we will prescribe you medication to minimize that. We will ask that you don’t blow your nose for two weeks, and not to hold any sneezes in to minimize the pressure in the sinus. 

After the surgical procedure, you will have dissolvable stitches in the area. Depending exactly what stitches are used, they may fall off in around a week or we will remove them at your post-operative appointment. After the local anesthesia wears off, you may be sore or experience some aching in the surgical area. Any discomfort can usually be resolved with ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Stronger pain medications are rarely needed but can be prescribed depending on your pain sensitivity. 

During the first two weeks of healing, it is important that the surgical site remains undisturbed. That means you will avoid chewing food or brushing the site. Except for specific cases, there are no real dietary restrictions – you don’t need a liquid diet or soft diet and can eat whatever you want as long as you chew on the other side.

Our team of periodontists specialize in minimally invasive sinus lifts, and serve the communities of Orange County, including Orange, Anaheim, Fullerton, Anaheim Hills, Tustin, Placentia, Yorba Linda, Santa Ana, Villa Park and Garden Grove. Book your consultation today!