Dental implants: Will I need a sinus lift?

Charlottesville patients are increasingly turning to dental implants to replace missing teeth, but not all patients are candidates for immediate dental implant placement. For candidates with significant bone loss, a sinus lift or sinus augmentation may be necessary before the implants can be placed.

Dental implants are so durable and effective because they fuse with the jawbone. The titanium structures are biocompatible, allowing the implant to become part of the bone through a process called osseointegration.

However, when a biological tooth is lost, the jawbone begins to recede in the vicinity of that tooth because no root is present to anchor it in place. This process, known as resorption, takes place more rapidly toward the rear of the mouth, where the jawbone is thinner to begin with.

Because of the biomechanics of dental implants, a patient must have sufficient bone to support the implants. An oral surgeon will be unable to perform the procedure on patients with significant jawbone resorption.

Patients with this problem still can qualify for dental implants, but they would need to undergo a preliminary sinus lift surgery before the implants can be placed. In a sinus lift, the oral surgeon raises the membrane that serves as the floor of the sinus cavity, placing supplemental bone graft material underneath that membrane. This supplemental bone gives patients sufficient bone structure to support the dental implants.

The bone used in a sinus lift may come from elsewhere in the patient’s body, such as the hip. The bone may also come from a cadaver, or synthetic materials may be used to generate bone cells.

A sinus lift will add months to the dental implant treatment timeline, as patients need sufficient time to recover from the initial surgery before the implants can be placed. Patients requiring sinus lifts should be prepared for this longer timeline when beginning the process.

Not all dental implant patients will require a sinus lift, but it is essential for implant success in patients with significant bone loss. If you are considering dental implants, talk with Dr. Carlos Rafael Ibañez at Charlottesville Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center to determine if you will need a sinus lift prior to implant placement.

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