A sinus augmentation is when the bone ridge is too shallow to place an implant and needs to be heightened to place an implant. In a sinus augmentation, a thin layer of membrane is carefully lifted and bone is packed in the cavity between the bone ridge of the jaw and the sinus floor. Sinus lifts are a common procedure in conjunction with an implant. Sinus lifts are only on the upper jaw. Sinus Augmentations can be performed various ways.
Lateral Sinus Lift
A Lateral approach sinus lift consists of opening the tissue and bone on the cheek side of the upper jaw. A small window in the bony plate is carefully thinned out and removed until the sinus membrane is exposed. The sinus membrane is a thin mucous tissue, somewhat like a balloon. The membrane expands and contracts as your breathe in and out through your nose; much like a balloon. The membrane is carefully peeled away from the bone, remaining intact. Special instruments hold the membrane away from the opening while a bone material is packed into the open cavity between the sinus membrane and the sinus floor. The membrane will naturally lay on the new bone graft and heal back into place. During the healing phase, the bone graft will become solid bone. Once the healing has taken place the augmented area is ready for an implant.
Crestal Sinus Lift
A crestal sinus lift is another option for a sinus augmentation. A crestal approach is accessed from the “crest” of the bony ridge where the teeth and gum line meet. A crestal approach to the sinus can be accessed through the root socket of an extracted tooth or it can be drilled with a series of special instruments. An opening is made until the sinus is exposed but the sinus membrane remains intact. A special tool seals off the hole exposing the sinus and saline, a sterile salt water mixture is pumped into the socket and it slowly elevates the sinus membrane. Once the membrane is lifted a bone material is inserted between the sinus membrane and the sinus floor, thus lifting the sinus. The sinus floor will naturally lay back down on the new graft and heal into place. Once completely healed, bone graft material will become solid bone. An implant can be placed at the same time as the crestal sinus approach, but the doctor will evaluate each patient on a case by case basis to determine that.