If you are considering an implant towards the back of your upper jaw, you may be told that a sinus lift is required. A sinus lift is a procedure undertaken to create more bone height and/or width in which to place your implant.
The maxillary sinuses are holes located in the facial bones between your upper teeth and your eyes (these are what fill with mucus when you have a head cold). Loss of an upper tooth below the sinus can cause the sinus to grow down into the area previously occupied by the tooth. This may leave insufficient bone in which to place an implant (of note, if bone grafting is performed at the time of extraction, this does not occur!).
In the case of insufficient bone in this area, a ‘sinus lift’ can be performed, whereby we modify the shape of the sinus by adding bone substitute material to this area. There are two different methods by which we can achieve this: using an internal (osteotome) approach if a relatively small addition of bone is required, or alternatively an external (lateral window or Caldwell Luc) approach if substantial extra bone is required.
If an osteotome approach is used, this will be done at the time of your implant placement. Dr Worthington will create the hole for the implant, and then introduce a metal instrument called an osteotome. The osteotome is tapped gently to raise the shell of the sinus upward, and this area is then filled with bone. The implant is then placed.