What Is a Sinus Lift?

photo by Arvind Philomin of a woman's mouth checking teeth conditions

Tooth loss is a significant issue, and not for aesthetic reasons alone. Missing teeth can affect digestion and communication and cause substantial changes to a person’s facial structure. Accordingly, dentists and oral surgeons encourage patients experiencing tooth loss to consider dental implants.

Implants are a form of dental prosthesis consisting of an artificial tooth, an abutment, and a metal rod, which takes the place of the tooth root. The metal rod must fuse effectively with the underlying jawbone tissue for the implant to remain stable.

And that’s precisely where sinus lifts come in. Our team at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry is committed to providing the very best care. When patients ask what a sinus lift is, we’re ready with clear and concise answers to ensure you can make informed decisions about your dental care.

Why Sinus Lifts Are Performed

Sinus lifts, also known as sinus augmentation, are performed when a patient lacks the necessary bone tissue to support dental implants. While a bone graft can enhance the quality of the jawbone in terms of stability, some patients do not have enough room for new bone tissue in the upper jaw. A lift shifts the sinus membrane upwards, creating more space. A dental specialist may also recommend zygomatic implants, which are designed for people who experience bone loss in the jaw.

There are a few reasons why a person might not have sufficient jawbone tissue for implants.

  • Advanced periodontal disease can spread into the jawbone and diminish tissue.
  • Long-term tooth loss can also cause tissue to deplete because jawbone tissue isn’t adequately stimulated when the tooth root is missing. This means it will degrade faster rate than it regenerates.

What to Expect During the Procedure

Most dental specialists use a combination of conscious sedation and local anesthetic to ensure patient comfort. During the procedure:

  • The oral surgeon will make an incision in the gum tissue to access the underlying jawbone and make a small, circular cut in the bone using a special tool. This provides access to the sinus membrane, which will be carefully lifted to the new position.
  • To fill in the hole created by lifting the sinus membrane, bone graft tissue will be placed in the area. This tissue is necessary to support jawbone regeneration, ensuring a sturdy foundation for the dental implant.
  • Finally, the surgical site is closed, and the patient can be on their way once the sedation wears off. While the timeline can vary, most sinus augmentation procedures take 90 to 120 minutes to complete.

How to Prepare for a Sinus Lift

Your dental specialist will provide specific instructions during the consultation before your surgery.

  • Avoid smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol approximately eight hours before the procedure, as it may disrupt the healing process.
  • If you undergo general anesthesia, the oral surgeon will also request that you don’t eat or drink in the eight hours leading up to the procedure.
  • Also, make sure you arrange for someone to come with you to drive you home from the office and assist with immediate aftercare.

What to Expect During the Recovery Process

Before you can undergo a procedure to place dental implants, you must allow time to heal from the sinus augmentation surgery. While the total recovery time usually ranges from about four to twelve months, there are essential steps to take immediately following the augmentation procedure.

The good news is that most patients only experience minor effects, such as slight discomfort and swelling. In addition, some people experience minimal bleeding within the surgical area after the procedure, but this typically resolves within a few days.

The oral surgeon will also provide specific aftercare instructions to ensure a successful recovery:

  • You may be provided with prescription pain relievers and antibiotics, and you must follow dosing instructions carefully.
  • The dental specialist may also recommend using a saline spray to prevent nasal dryness.
  • Patients are encouraged to avoid blowing their nose immediately following the surgery.
  • You should also contact the oral surgeon immediately if you experience prolonged bleeding, significant discomfort, or fever.

Reach out to schedule a consultation

Here at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry, we ensure our patients are fully informed upon leaving our clinic. We are fully invested in your care and satisfaction, which is why we insist on using the latest oral surgery techniques and equipment for a fast, efficient, and comfortable experience.

Feel free to reach out to our team today with any questions you have about procedures. You can also contact us to schedule a consultation regarding your oral health.  

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