Sinus Lifts and Bone Grafting Part of Oral Surgery

Dr. Leonard Spector, oral surgeon, explains that sinus life procedures and bone grafting are sometimes required before receiving a dental implant.

These types of procedures have become very familiar during the past 15 years as more people get implants to replace their missing teeth. We can use growth factors to help grow bone in the sinuses. In our practice, most of the bone that we use for sinus lift bone grafts comes from a cadaver. We mix this bone either with platelet-rich plasma or with bone morphogenetic protein. Sometimes we can also use your bone to be used for the sinus lift procedures, but this is now done very infrequently and I usually just use the cadaver bone mixed with the growth factors to get predictable results for sinus lift procedures.

Before a sinus lift is discussed, in our office we will get a cone beam CT scan of your sinuses so we can study the anatomy of the bone between the sinus and your mouth where the implants will be placed. The scan also allows us to measure the height and width of the existing bone accurately and evaluate the health of your sinuses before we do a procedure. The procedure itself is performed through a small incision in the mouth. The gum tissue is raised, and a small window is made into the sinus. We observe the membrane that lines the sinus and lift the sinus membrane.

The bone graft is packed into the space where the sinus membrane used to be before it was pushed up. The amount of bone is usually a couple of millimeters up to about a centimeter. Once the bone has been placed, the tissue is closed with stitches.

We want to be sure that the bone graft material heals to the surrounding bone. Dental implants can usually be placed about four to eight months later, but the amount of time varies and depends on how much bone is needed and how fast the bone becomes calcified and integrates to the surrounding bone.

There tends to be minimal swelling after a sinus lift procedure. We ask the patient not to blow their nose for approximately one week after surgery because this could cause the bone graft material to move. We also usually have the patients usually use a nasal decongestant or a sinus decongestant to decrease inflammation. All patients are given antibiotics and then antimicrobial mouthwash after surgery.

Usually, there is minimal discomfort involved with these procedures. I often see these patients back in the office seven to ten days after the surgery. The stitches do not need to be removed because they dissolve on their own.

There are relatively few complications. Infection is very rare in these procedures. As long as the bone integrates properly with the graft material, we can move forward with dental implant placement.

Dr. Leonard Spector