The maxillary sinuses are located on the right and left sides of the skull at the level of the nose and above the maxillary molars. Its main function is to reduce the weight of the skull and produce mucus.
With tooth loss, aging, or congenital causes, sometimes this sinus membrane hangs down and the bone volume decreases. When the bone height falls below 4 mm, it is not possible to install implant the missing tooth area. Although 4mm long implants can be applied in the lower jaw molar region, 10mm or larger implants should be used in the upper jawbone as the upper jawbone is generally softer and of poor quality.
Sinus Lifting (Sinus Augmentation):
What is it? A sinus lift, also known as sinus augmentation, is a surgical procedure that aims to increase the amount of bone in the upper jaw, specifically in the premolar and molar areas. It’s often needed when there’s insufficient bone height in the upper jaw, or the sinuses are too close to the jaw, for dental implants to be placed.
- Accessing the Sinus: An incision is made to expose the bone. Then, a small window is opened in the bone to access the sinus membrane.
- Lifting the Sinus Membrane: The sinus membrane is gently detached and lifted away from the jaw.
- Placing the Bone Graft: The space where the sinus was is then filled with bone grafting material, which will help in forming new bone.
Closing the Incision: The area is sutured closed. Over time, the graft will integrate with the existing bone and develop into a bone suitable for an implant.
What is it? Bone grafting in dentistry is a procedure where bone or bone-like materials are placed to build and regenerate bone where it’s missing. It’s frequently used when there’s a lack of bone that’s suitable for implant placement.
Types of Bone Graft Materials:
- Autograft: Bone taken from the patient’s body (usually from another site in the mouth or from the hip or chin).
- Allograft: Processed bone, typically sourced from a cadaver.
- Xenograft: Bone sourced from animals, typically cows. It’s treated to be safe and compatible.
- Alloplast: Synthetic bone, usually made of hydroxyapatite or other biocompatible materials.
- Preparing the Site: The grafting site is exposed by making an incision.
- Securing the Bone Graft: The grafting material is placed at the site where bone regeneration is desired.
- Protection of the Graft: The graft may be covered with a collagen membrane for protection and to prevent soft tissue and bacterial invasions.
- Closing the Site: The area is sutured closed.
After both sinus lifts and bone grafts, there’s a waiting period before dental implants can be placed. This period allows the grafting material to merge with the existing bone. It can take several months for the bone to be ready for implant surgery, depending on the individual and the extent of grafting.
- Enables Dental Implant Placement: These procedures make it possible for patients who wouldn’t otherwise be candidates for dental implants due to bone loss to receive implants.
- Restores Facial Structure: Bone loss in the jaw can lead to changes in facial structure. Bone grafting can help in restoring this.
Post-Operative Care: After the surgery, patients may experience some swelling and discomfort, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers and prescribed medications. It’s also crucial to follow all post-operative care instructions, including dietary restrictions and oral hygiene practices.
In conclusion, sinus lifting and bone grafting are vital preparatory steps for many patients before they can receive dental implants. They ensure that there’s enough bone to support and anchor the implants, leading to long-term success.