If a patient has chosen to have a dental implant on his/her upper jaw (maxilla) and the CT scan shows there is not enough bone to support an implant, a sinus augmentation will be necessary. This surgical procedure is also know as a sinus lift or sinus graft.
During the surgery the dentist will make an incision into the gum, (gingiva) and pull back the gum tissue exposing the wall of the sinus. He then cuts a window to the sinus, which is covered by a thin membrane. Next the dentist will carefully lift away the membrane and bone graft material is placed into the created space. The bone material can be allogenic (from a tissue bank) or autogenous (taken from the patient). Synthetic materials may also be used.
Healing time takes about three to six months for the sinus augmentation bone to become part of the patient's natural sinus floor bone. At that time the patient will be booked for implant surgery.
As with any surgery, there are risks. In the case of sinus augmentation, the sinus membrane could be pierced. If this occurs the dentist will place a patch over the perforated membrane and allow time for healing (3 - 6 months). The sinus membrane often grows back thicker and stronger, making the success of the second operation more likely.
Other risks involved in sinus augmentation surgery are:
- inflammation and infection
- allergic reaction
- tissue or nerve damage
- scar formation
- hematoma (bruise)