Patients receiving dental implants may require sinus augmentation surgery. Sometimes called a sinus lift, sinus augmentation involves adding bone to the upper jaw, near molars and premolars, between your jaw and maxillary sinuses on either side of your nose. Dr. Choi makes room for this additional bone by “lifting” the sinus membrane. Increases in patients seeking dental implants led to a rise in sinus augmentation surgery.
Why Do I Need Sinus Augmentation?
Certain conditions make placing dental implants difficult or impossible, including inadequate bone height in the upper jaw and sinuses located too close to the jaw. The loss of teeth, for example, leads to bone loss in the jaw. In particular, patients who lose upper molars typically do not have enough bone mass for dental implants. Time exacerbates this problem, as bone loss increases over time. Even before losing teeth, the upper jaw naturally has less bone than the lower jaw. Patients also experience bone loss as a side effect of periodontal disease.
Maxillary sinus size and placement varies by patient. In some instances, placement is too close to the upper jaw. In others, size is an issue. Either situation requires a sinus lift before dental implants can occur.
What to Expect Before the Procedure
Dr. Choi takes x-rays before the procedure. He may also order a CT scan, which provides a more accurate measurement of your existing bone, including height and width. The CT scan also helps evaluate sinus health. Let the doctor know now if you suffer from seasonal allergies, as this affects scheduling.
The bone used in the procedure comes from one of three possible donors. Autogenous bone donations come from your own body, such as the mouth or tibia. Allogeneic bone comes from a donor bank, and xenograft augmentation comes from cow bone.
After sedation, Dr. Choi makes an incision in the gum tissue where he plans to place the dental implant. He pulls back the tissue to expose the underlying jawbone, and then cuts a hinged section of bone. The hinge is important, as it allows the doctor to move the bone upward gently, into the sinus cavity. This moves the sinus membrane at the same time, lifting it to an appropriate height for the future implant.
Dr. Choi then packs the donor bone material into the empty space, creating an anchor for the dental implant. With the donor material in place, he closes the original incision. At this time, it is unlikely he will perform the implant. Typically, he allows a healing period for the bone graft, anywhere between four and nine months. The type of donor material dictates the required healing time.
After the Procedure
Recovery takes two to three days, so plan on taking time off work during this period. Immediately following surgery, you will likely experience swelling, minor bleeding, and discomfort. Dr. Choi places a gauze pad to control the bleeding, which you replace as needed. He also prescribes antibiotics and mouthwash to prevent infection. Follow his postoperative instructions exactly.
Minor bruising often occurs at the surgery site, as well as some discomfort. Over-the-counter pain relief and ice packs help reduce pain, swelling, and bruising. During the first week, you may not brush or floss the procedure area; continue regular oral hygiene elsewhere. Follow a soft diet the first three to five days following your procedure, and chew using the opposite side of your mouth. Avoid hard, crunchy foods as well as hot food, for the first few days.
To protect the graft material and ensure it sets properly, avoid blowing your nose and sneezing for two to three weeks. For the same reason, avoid strenuous physical activity for the first week. These activities may cause shifting in the graft material or loosening of the stitches.
During healing, the donor material merges with your original jawbone. This takes three to six months, depending on whether you underwent an autogenous, allogeneic, or xenograft. The dental implant occurs four to nine months after your sinus augmentation surgery.
Dr. Choi schedules a follow-up visit approximately one week after your procedure. During this time, he inspects your healing progress and removes any remaining stitches.
If you are considering dental implants but are not sure whether you require sinus augmentation, schedule a consultation with Dr. Choi to learn more about treatments and procedures.
Call one of our offices to schedule your appointment today or click here to request an appointment online!