Sinus Augmentation

The maxillary sinus is an air filled cavity in the posterior part of the upper jaw. This sinus cavity is generally above the roots of the teeth in this area but can be lower in some patients. When posterior teeth, usually molars, are extracted, this sinus tends to move into this newly empty space. When planning implant placement in such sites, there is often an insufficient height of bone to support an implant and 2 different options exist: place a short implant or do a “sinus lift”. Because there is often inadequate height of bone for even the shortest implants, the second option is commonly indicated. The sinus lift, or sinus augmentation, sounds daunting to many patients but is a fairly common procedure that has a very high success rate. To perform this procedure, the thin membrane that lines the walls of the sinus is raised up slightly by packing bone graft material underneath it, thus slightly decreasing the size of the sinus and increasing the amount of bone below it. Depending on how much bone is present underneath the sinus initially, this sinus augmentation can be done either at the same time as implant placement or 6-9 months prior (allowing the bone to heal before placing the implants). To best visualize the anatomy of the jawbone and sinus, several x-rays including a CT scan are often prescribed.