Sinus Grafting or Sinus Augmentation

Sinus grafting procedure or a sinus lift is a technique used in patients who do not have sufficient bone height (in the upper jaw area) for dental implants to be placed successfully. Also called sinus augmentation, sinus grafting or augmentation procedure involves surgical addition of bone into the maxillary sinus of a patient’s upper jaw, particularly in the area of the molars and the premolars. This grafted bone is replaced by the patient’s own bone to create normal bone. The aim is to grow enough bone height so that implants of sufficient length can be placed to support crowns.

A sinus lift usually refers to a lifting or tenting up of the sinus floor without entry into the sinus chamber with or without the addition of a bone graft. Often this is done at the same time as the implant placement.

This is moderate surgery and needs to be carried out by those with appropriate training and experience. However it is an established, safe and predictable procedure.

Cases addressed by sinus grafting or sinus lift

  • Significant bone loss resulting from periodontal or gum disease, making it virtually impossible for dental implants to be placed.
  • Tooth loss in the upper jaw area – particularly the molars or back teeth – where there is naturally less bone mass compared to the lower jaw area.
  • Maxillary sinus being too large in the upper jaw, making it extremely difficult for dental implants to be placed. The sinus may be large because of normal anatomy, tooth loss or age related changes.

    Steps in a sinus grafting procedure or sinus lift

    1. An X-ray or CAT scan is usually first needed to get a clear view of the patient’s sinus and upper jaw area.

    2. If the patient’s own bone tissue is to be used for the sinus grafting procedure or augmentation, a second surgical procedure will need to be done to extract (bone harvesting) the said bone tissue usually from the patient’s tibia, the long bone in the leg or hip.

    3. In the vast majority of cases donor bone is used so that there is no need to have a second surgery to harvest bone.

    4. Incisions in the gum will be made to expose the jaw bone and sinuses for the sinus grafting or sinus lift procedure.

    5. Additional bone will be grafted or added to the sinuses to increase the height of the bone, to provide sufficient bone mass for dental implants to be placed. The gums will be stitched closed after this procedure; a healing period of usually four months will be needed for the bone graft to be successfully completed and integrated.

    6. After the healing period has passed, dental implants will then be placed into the successfully grafted bone area. The dental implants will need three to six months to fully integrate with the surrounding tissue, before crowns can be attached.