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Should I think about a sinus lift before my dental implant procedure?

Posted on May 16,2022

Why the right treatment plan makes all the difference

If you’re missing one or more teeth, your dentist may have told you that having a dental implant isn’t possible. Yet that might be because they only have access to a standard 2 dimensional x-ray that doesn’t show the full picture of your mouth and jaw.

If we take a more careful look with the right equipment, it may turn out that dental implants in fact are an appropriate treatment to give you back full function. With the help of a procedure called a ‘sinus lift’, we can restore the bone you need to have a dental implant successfully placed.

When is a sinus lift appropriate?

When you’re living with one or more missing upper back teeth – which do have a tendency to be lost thanks to decay or gum disease – you may have lost a lot of jaw bone along with them.

Replacing these back teeth can be difficult. These teeth have a complex shape and roots, and can be difficult to clean. Yet because they’re obviously your chewing teeth, they play an important role in your mouth.

It can leave you with the choice of:

  • Dentures – which can be uncomfortable for those teeth
  • Bridges – which can be difficult to place, if there is no suitable tooth to attach to, or
  • Implants – which need a good foundation for placement.

Yet the back of your mouth is home to some of the worst bone quality in the whole mouth. While other areas are dense, the upper back of your mouth has bone that’s more like honeycomb.

All of this means that we need to create or enhance the bone foundation, before we can successfully place an implant. And that’s where a sinus lift can be ideal.

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Why a high quality diagnosis is crucial for a successful sinus lift

With a sinus lift procedures, we’re essentially converting air into bone, to form the right foundation for a dental implant. That’s why a thorough examination is crucial to determine whether it is appropriate for your individual circumstances.

Living with missing teeth?

A normal 2 dimensional (OPG) x-ray won’t give your dentist all the information that’s needed to plan your sinus lift. A 3D X-ray gives us the high quality images that are needed, and at Wickham Terrace Dental, we routinely do this to ensure an accurate diagnosis. It helps us see if you’re suitable for a sinus lift procedure.

What are the two different types of sinus lift?

A sinus lift procedure can be ideal in cases where for example 8mm of bone is needed to place an implant, and you already have around 6 mm of bone. The sinus lift can create the additional 2 to 3mm needed for a successful implant placement.

To accomplish this, there are two main types of sinus lift we can utilise:

Firstly, we can access the space through the floor of the sinus, where the head of your missing tooth used to be. This can often be done at the same time as the implant is placed, and patients typically tell us there’s only minimal discomfort.

Secondly, we can add a bone graft onto the sinus floor by opening a window on the side. This more complicated lateral procedure is best performed by a specialist. At Wickham Terrace Dental we work closely with an oral surgeon in our building to carry out these sinus lifts.

The size of the graft will depend on how much bone you have lost, and how many implants are needed. With a lateral sinus lift, you will need more time to heal before your new dental implant is placed.

For any sinus lift procedure, it’s very important to take steps to mitigate the possibility of infection, since the sinuses can be prone to serious infection.

What's the best option now you're missing a tooth?

When is a sinus lift not suitable?

A sinus lift can be problematic if you have a history of frequent sinus infections, or if your sinuses are too large or too complex to convert into bone.

If you’ve been living with a missing tooth for a while, your bone may have retracted or the sinus may have collapsed to fill the space left by the root of your missing tooth.

Talk to us about whether a sinus lift is right for you

If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with the Wickham Terrace Dental team on 3831 3031 or contact us online.

Topics: dental implant success, dental implants

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