Set Yourself up for Dental Implant Success: Getting Sinus Lifts in Orange County
The upper jaws are typically one of the hardest areas for dentists to place an implant, especially because of how close these bones are to the sinuses, and because bone density isn’t always strong in that location.
However, if the bone in your jaw has deteriorated because of tooth loss or disease, your hopes for dental implants may be dashed; however, a possible solution is a sinus lift.
A sinus lift, or sinus augmentation, is a surgery that adds bone between your jaw and your maxillary sinuses (located just beneath your nose). In order for your dental surgeon to have enough room for the bone, the sinus membrane has to be lifted.
What’s the Basic Procedure for Sinus Lift?
According to Perio Implant Advisory, there are numerous approaches these days for sinus lifts–especially noninvasive techniques. The site says there are new technologies, such as simultaneous implant placement and the use of growth factors–both of which can speed up the whole process. However, whatever technique(s) your dentist uses, he or she will likely follow these steps:
- You will be put under general anesthetic.
- Your surgeon will open the gums where your back teeth used to be to expose the jaw bone.
- A small opening will be made in the bone, through which your doctor will gently push the membrane of the sinus up and away from the jaw bone.
- Bone-like material will be placed in the area where the sinus was. The opening will then be closed with stitches.
After surgery, you can expect some swelling and pain, which is completely normal after such a procedure. Most patients only experience mild discomfort, which can be taken care of with medication.
Which Types of Techniques for Sinus Lifts Are Commonly Used?
Again, there are many different approaches to sinus lifts, but a few common techniques are osteotome and hydraulic condensing, and lateral window lifts.
For osteotome lifts, your dentist will make a hole for your dental implant, and then will put a slender instrument through that hole to push your sinus upward. Osteotome techniques are mainly used when there doesn’t have to be a great change in the height, and when the patient wants a minimally-invasive procedure.
Hydraulic sinus condensing (HSC) was created in the mid-90s by Dr. Leon Chen, who said that he developed the technique because he was unhappy with the techniques at the time and wanted a surgery that was safer and less invasive. And his hydraulic condensing technique does have shorter recovery times than other methods. Instead of using a thin instrument to push sinuses, HSC uses a stream of water through bone and tissue to loosen the membrane. Once the sinus is loosened, the plasma-rich protein and bone grafts are condensed into a small opening.
When a dentist uses a lateral window technique, he or she will make an incision into the gums, then pull them to reveal the bony wall of the sinus. The dentist will access this bony wall laterally (or farther away from the body’s centerline) and cut a hole, or window, to the sinus membrane where bone material will be implanted. Then the dentist will stitch the window closed.
What Are the Risks of Sinus Lifts?
There are very few risks associated with this surgery, and you’ll be happy to hear that success rates are well above 90%.
However, one risk is that the sinus membrane could tear. In this situation, your doctor will either stitch or patch the tear and continue as planned. In more extreme cases, the surgeon may have to stop the surgery and give your sinus membrane time to heal.
Other risks of this surgery include:
- The development of an infection (which is a risk with any surgery).
- The lack of integration between the bone and the bone grafting material.
Thankfully, at the Dental Oasis of Orange County, you are in very capable hands. Dr. Toorani and his team want you to be as comfortable with your procedure as possible. If you are worried, you can consult with the dentist about reducing risk factors and looking into less invasive procedures.
Lowering Your Post-Op Sinus Lift Issues
If you do want to proceed with a sinus lift, you’ll want to follow your doctor’s orders very carefully so that you can hopefully heal enough for the next step: your dental implants.
You will have to be very careful to not irritate your nose after the surgery. You shouldn’t blow your nose forcibly since that can actually loosen stitches or tear grafted material. If you know that you sneeze a lot–due to allergies or other issues–you’ll want to take any preventative measure so you aren’t sneezing all the time and irritating areas that still need to heal. Ask your dentist for a saline spray, so that you can prevent further inflammation and congestion.
Some stitches dissolve on their own, but you may still have to return a week after surgery to make sure everything is healing well. You may have a little blood in your nose and mouth for the first days after the surgery, but it’s good for the dentist to make sure this doesn’t become a chronic issue.
While you may be excited to get going with your implants, keep in mind that it usually takes months for full healing and for grafts to integrate with your jaw. But even though you may have to wait, there are still many benefits to be gained in the meantime. For instance, since you’ve replaced lost bone, meaning you can better support dentures or other prostheses. And increased bone density means that you will be able to have stronger jaws and stave off gum diseases.