Sinus Augmentation

Why Is Sinus Augmentation Necessary?

The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper teeth. These sinuses are empty, air-filled spaces. Some of the roots of the natural upper teeth extend up into the maxillary sinuses. When these upper teeth are removed, there is often just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. Dental implants need bone to hold them in place. When the sinus wall is very thin, it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone and bone augmentation is necessary.  As part of your evaluation for dental implant treatment Dr. Laudenbach will take a cone beam CT scan to evaluate your bone profile and to determine any need for bone augmentation of the sinus area.  The key to a successful and long-lasting dental implant is the quality and quantity of jawbone to which the implant will be attached. If bone loss has occurred due to injury or periodontal disease, a sinus augmentation can raise the sinus floor and allow for new bone formation.

“Lateral Wall” Sinus Augmentation:

In the most common sinus augmentation procedure, a small incision is made on the premolar or molar region to expose the jawbone. A small opening is prepared in the “lateral wall” of the bone, and the membrane lining the sinus is pushed upward. The underlying space is filled with bone grafting material to keep the sinus membrane elevated.  After placement of the bone material a soft collagen membrane is placed over the bony access window and the area is sutured closed.  Although swelling and bruising are possible after the sinus augmentation procedure, patients typically have very little pain or discomfort from the procedure.  Over a 6 month waiting period the bone graft material becomes part of the patient’s jaw and dental implants can be inserted and stabilized in the new sinus bone.

“Osteotome” Sinus Augmentation:

In some cases there is enough bone height to allow for completion of a minimally invasive sinus augmentation procedure and stabilization of the implant on the same day.  During the procedure a small incision is made and the bone is prepared for dental implant placement.  Just before implant placement an instrument known as an osteotome advances bone graft material upward to elevate the sinus membrane.  Application of bone graft material is repeated until enough bone graft volume has been added.  Placement of the dental implant seals off the sinus access and the area is closed with a few simple sutures.  The main benefits of this procedure include, placement of the dental implant without a 6 month delay, and a short procedure with minimal to almost no discomfort after the procedure. 

Both of these sinus graft procedures make it possible for many patients to have dental implants in areas that previously would have succumbed to wearing loose dentures.