If you’ve been dealing with missing teeth for years, dental implants probably sound like the ideal solution, as they are able to resemble a natural tooth in almost every way possible. For many patients, the process is as simple as finding an implant dentist and saying they’d like to replace their missing teeth. For others, a little prep work may be necessary. See, dental implants actually require a patient to have an adequate amount of healthy jawbone to support them, and a patient who has been missing teeth for a long time may have one that is too thin or brittle. Fortunately, dentists can now build up the jawbone with a variety of bone grafting procedures. Today, we’re going to discuss one of the most common: sinus surgery. This particular treatment is used to help those patients who are hoping to replace their missing teeth toward the back of their upper jaw. Will you need it to get dental implants? Read on to learn more.
Why You Might Need Sinus Surgery
Not everyone who is hoping to get dental implants will need to undergo sinus surgery—only those who want teeth replaced toward the back of their upper jaw who lack enough natural jawbone to actually support the implants. Your dentist will determine its necessity during your initial consultation. Building up the jawbone in this area will accomplish two important things.
One, it will give the implants a firm base to be placed into, and two, it will prevent the implants from penetrating the sensitive sinus cavities. As you can see in the picture above, our sinuses are located right above our mouths. While they might be mostly empty, they are actually surrounded by a very thin membrane. If you’ve ever had a sinus infection or cold, then you know how sensitive this membrane can be and what kind of discomfort it can cause. Imagine if a dental implant were to accidentally pierce it! Sinus surgery is intended to create enough jawbone so that doesn’t happen and the implant can be trusted to stay in place.
How Sinus Surgery Works
This procedure can be completed over the course of one appointment, and thanks to local anesthesia, most patients report feeling very little pain both during and afterward. There are two main kinds of sinus surgeries.
The first involves your dentist making a very small incision in the area where your teeth used to be and then placing a bone grafting material directly on the jawbone. This material could come from you, a donor, or be lab-created.
Or, if your upper jaw is particularly thin, they may need to create a “window” in the area above where your teeth will be replaced in order to gain access to your sinus membrane. Your dentist will then gently lift the membrane and place the grafting material in this newly created space. This is why this procedure is sometimes referred to as a “sinus lift.”
In either case, you’ll be given a few weeks to heal afterward so your bone can grow and strengthen, and from there, your dentist will be able to confidently place your implants. If you end up needing sinus surgery, don’t worry—it’s a relatively painless procedure and is the first step to you getting your complete smile back.
About the Author
Dr. Charles Parker is a general, restorative, and implant dentist who has served East Texas for over 30 years. He has helped thousands of patients reclaim their smiles with dental implants, and if you’re ready to finally get rid of the gaps in your smile, he’s the man to see. If you have any questions about what you’ve just read or dental implants in general, he can be contacted through his website.