If you’re thinking about getting dental implants but don’t have enough bone in your upper jaw area, your dentist may recommend a sinus lift, and you probably have a lot of questions about this type of dental reconstruction. To help you prepare, here’s a look at the details.

What is a Sinus Lift?

A type of dental reconstruction surgery, a sinus lift adds bone to the area between your jaw and maxillary sinuses. The bone can come from another part of your body, from a cadaver, or from a cow. The procedure is called a lift because the oral surgeon has to lift your sinus membrane.

Why Do Patients Need This Type of Dental Reconstruction?

Generally, you only need a sinus lift if you are getting dental implants and you don’t have enough bone in the area around your molars to support the implants. You may have lost bone in this area due to periodontal disease or if you have suffered extensive tooth loss. When you lose teeth, your body starts to absorb your jaw bone. In contrast, when you have tooth roots in place, your jaw bone doesn’t get absorbed because it’s actively being used.

In some cases, you may need a sinus lift just due to the natural positioning of your jaw bone and your sinus cavity. Everyone has a slightly different shape in this area, and some people have a maxillary sinus that is too close to their upper jaw bone. If you fall into this category, you may need a sinus lift before you can get implants.

What Happens During the Sinus Lift Surgery?

During this dental reconstruction surgery, your oral surgeon completes the following steps:

  • Cuts into the gum tissue in the back of your mouth
  • Raises the tissue to access your bone
  • Cuts a small oval into the bone which exposes a membrane which is between the sinus and the bone
  • Pushes or lifts the membrane away from your jaw bone
  • Packs bone graft material into the area where the membrane used to sit
  • Closes the tissue with stitches

Of course, this all happens while you are comfortably numb, and most patients choose general anesthesia for this part of their dental reconstruction process.

What Should You Expect After a Sinus Lift

Some swelling and bleeding are common after the procedure. Your oral surgeon will give you gauze to stop the bleeding as well as pain medication, the saline solution to keep your sinus moist, and oral antibiotics or antimicrobial mouthwash to prevent infection. You may want to take the rest of the day off, especially if you’re going under general anesthesia, but by the next morning, you should only feel slight discomfort. If possible, you need to avoid blowing your nose or sneezing roughly because that may loosen the stitches or jar the bone graft.

Typically, you return for a follow-up appointment in a week or two but plan to give yourself about four to nine months for the bone to heal. After that point, your oral surgeon can put in the implants.

If you need a sinus lift or if you’re thinking about any other type of dental reconstruction surgery, you should contact us today. At Greater Atlanta Oral Facial Surgery, we have cutting edge equipment, board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and a comfortable inviting clinic.