Dental Implants

Sinus Lifts

If you are considering an implant towards the back of your upper jaw, you may be told that a sinus lift is required.

What is a tooth implant sinus lift?

A sinus augmentation is a dental procedure that is carried out when the floor of the sinus is too close to where dental implants will be placed. Untreated, this can result in failure of the implant, pain and other complications. The sinus lift adds bone to the upper jaw, ensuring a secure location for the placement of the implant, while keeping the sinus safe.

The maxillary sinuses are holes located in the facial bones between your upper teeth and your eyes (these are what fill with mucus when you have a head cold). Loss of an upper tooth below the sinus can cause the sinus to grow down into the area previously occupied by the tooth. This may leave insufficient bone in which to place an implant (of note, if bone grafting is performed at the time of extraction, this does not occur!).

In the case of insufficient bone in this area, a ‘sinus lift’ can be performed, whereby we modify the shape of the sinus by adding bone substitute material to this area. There are two different methods by which we can achieve this: using an internal (osteotome) approach if a relatively small addition of bone is required, or alternatively an external (lateral window or Caldwell Luc) approach if substantial extra bone is required.

Sinus lifts are nothing to worry about – at our practice we perform them on a daily basis and the risk of complications is very low. If you do have questions or concerns regarding this procedure, feel free to ask one of our staff.


Osteotome approach

If an osteotome approach is used, this will be done at the time of your implant placement. We will create the hole for the implant, and then introduce a metal instrument called an osteotome. The osteotome is tapped gently to raise the shell of the sinus upward, and this area is then filled with bone. The implant is then placed.

Osteotome (internal) sinus lift technique

Caldwell Luc technique

In the Caldwell Luc technique, a window is made in the bone adjacent to your sinus. The lower shell of the sinus is then lifted up with an instrument, and bone substitute material is placed in the space created. The area is then covered over with gum, sutured, and left to heal for a minimum of six months.

Caldwell Luc (lateral window) sinus lift technique