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When Is a Sinus Lift Necessary?

Jan 23, 2023
When Is a Sinus Lift Necessary?
You’re anxious to restore the missing tooth, or teeth, with a dental implant or implant-supported dentures, but you don’t have enough bone to anchor these superior prosthetics. With a sinus lift, we can add the necessary bone.

According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, the number of people in the United States who get dental implants to replace missing teeth is increasing by leaps and bounds — by about 500,000 annually. The success behind these implants is due to how well they perform, both aesthetically and functionally.

There are times, however, when a dental implant may be a more challenging option, such as when there isn’t enough bone to secure the implant. Luckily, there are workarounds when it comes to lack of bone, including a sinus lift.

At Baton Rouge Perio, our experienced dental implant team, led by Drs. Jenny Herman and Kenneth Markle, do everything we can to make these replacement teeth available to our clients. As part of these efforts, we offer sinus lifts, which we explain here.

When there’s not enough bone

A dental implant excels in function because we place a metal post into your jawbone that acts, for all intents and purposes, as a new root for your replacement tooth. The bone in your jaw grows up and around the post, fusing it into place for superior stability.

This makes dental implants ideal for replacing a single missing tooth or acting as anchors for other tooth-replacement options, such as dentures.

When there’s little bone in your jaw to work with, however, a dental implant becomes a more difficult proposition. As a rule of thumb, a dental implant works best if there’s at least 4-6 millimeters of vertical bone height. 

If you have less than this amount, the problem may be due to:

  • Advanced periodontal disease and related bone loss
  • Larger-than-normal sinuses and a naturally smaller upper jawbone
  • Certain cancer treatments that lead to bone loss

Whatever the reason behind the lack of bone in your upper jawbone, we may be able to solve the problem with a sinus lift.

Adding bone

When we talk about a sinus lift, we’re referring to the sinuses located in your cheeks just above your upper jawbone — your maxillary sinuses. Your sinuses are hollow cavities that work to filter and moisturize the air you breathe. Since they’re hollow, it also means that we can “borrow” a little space from them to give you enough bone to support an implant.

More specifically, during a sinus lift, we raise the bottom of your sinus cavity up very slightly to make room for bone-grafting material that we place into your upper jawbone. Over the months following your sinus lift, these grafts fuse into your existing bone, giving it more strength and height. 

In most cases, we can perform a sinus lift on an outpatient basis, which means you’re free to go home the same day.

Once the bone graft from your sinus lift is secure, we then take the next steps of placing the implant to get you on the road to restoring your teeth.

If you have more questions about the sinus lift procedure, we invite you to contact our office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to schedule an appointment.