A key to implant success is the quantity and quality of the bone where the implant is to be placed. Insufficient bone at the back of the upper jaw (where the molars would be) has traditionally been an issue, due to the close proximity of the sinus floor to the area where the implant needs to be placed. The sinus is a natural air space of the upper face. Bone augmentation techniques within this natural space have been used for many years to grow natural bone. Also known as a sinus lift, this procedure corrects the problem of bone sufficiency by gently lifting the sinus floor to create a space where new bone can grow.
Depending on the amount of new bone required, different techniques can be utilized. If you require a lot of augmentation (6 or more millimeters), we use a technique called the “lateral or direct sinus lift.” For this classic technique, the gum is lifted on the side of the teeth and a small window is made to gain access to the membrane lining the sinus. This membrane is lifted, making a space into which the bone graft material can now be placed. Finally, the window is covered with a membrane to protect the grafted bone and the gum tissue is sutured to its original place.
The bone is generally allowed to develop over a period of 6 months after which the implants can be placed. In some cases, depending on your clinical situation, the implant may be successfully placed at the same time the sinus is augmented. This reduces the overall treatment time by 2 to 3 months.
If you require only a little more bone (2-5 mm), we can use a more conservative approach to grow bone in the sinus. This minimally invasive procedure is known as an “osteotome or indirect lift.” In this procedure, we just raise the floor of the sinus right over where we are placing an implant. Rather than using a lateral window, this lift is done through the same, small hole that is required to place the implant. The bone graft can then be introduced through the implant hole into the space created by lifting the membrane. An implant is then immediately placed, thus sealing the grafted bone in the sinus where it will mature and become your own natural bone. In this manner, both the graft maturation and implant integration progress simultaneously.
Sinus augmentation has been shown to greatly increase your chances for successful implants that can last for years to come. Many patients experience minimal discomfort during this procedure. Sinus lifts of all types have a high success rate and are commonly used today for promoting dental implant procedures.
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