What is a Sinus Lift?
When an upper back tooth is lost, not only will the outer bone and gum shrink but the maxillary sinus that sits at the root tips will begin to expand as well. Just the simple act of breathing in and out is enough pressure to cause the sinus to expand once the tooth roots no longer hold up the sinus floor. Consequently, if you decide after a few years to replace this missing tooth with an implant you may be told that the sinus floor is now in the way.
The analogy I usually give to my patients is to imagine that you want to hang a very heavy picture on your wall. We all know that despite the wall looking very solid on the outside, that your wall is actually hollow behind the drywall. Thus if we put our anchor into this wall it will punch through into the air space behind the drywall. This isn’t a good idea if that space is in your sinus.
So how do we get around this? Well we need to add some plaster behind the drywall so that the implant anchor will be totally in plaster. This is what a sinus lift entails. Lining the bony floor of the sinus is a lining we call the sinus membrane. Imagine the skin on the inside of your nose that lines your nasal passages extending through all your sinuses. It is this lining that we lift up. Between the lifted sinus lining and the bony sinus floor we place our bone graft. This is then left to harden and turn into new bone and eight to nine months later the new bone will be ready to have the implant anchor placed. This, is a Sinus Lift and it has become a very common procedure with a high success rate.