Sinus Lifting Procedure in Depth
The procedure you undergo will depend on how your oral surgeon proceeds with the surgery. Here’s what you can expect in general:
Stage 1: The Examination
When you go in for dental implants, your dentist will determine if you need a sinus lifting procedure done. You will be directed to an oral surgeon for further examination.
Your oral surgeon would take x-rays and CT scans of your upper jaw. These help the dentist and the surgeon understand where your sinuses are located. Your surgeon will also use the x-rays to measure how much upper jawbone you have left.
The first step also involved examining the health of your sinuses. Your sinuses should not be active when you undergo the procedure. So if you have a seasonal flu, allergies, or the occasional sniffles, it will have to pass before you are ready for the procedure.
Stage 2: Preparation
During this preparation stage, your dentist or oral surgeon will discuss your overall medical history. You will need to undergo general anesthetic to be sedated for the surgery. So this will be something up for discussion. Your oral surgeon will ask your about any medications you are on, so the drugs will not counteract with any drugs you will get for the surgical procedure.
You can also discuss your bone grafting options with your dentist. During the procedure, the dentist will fill your upper jawbone with bones sourced from elsewhere.
The Bone Grafting Procedure
When your sinuses are lifted, it creates a hole exposing your upper jawbone. The oral surgeon would then fill this hole with bone, adding more density to the bone. There are several types of bones you can choose from. These are broken down into either natural bone or synthetic variations. Here are your main options for bone grafting material:
Your own bone: You will have to undergo a several surgical procedure to get bone from your body to use as grafting material for the upper jawline. The bone usually comes from the big bones in your legs. Your bone maybe mixed with other material if necessary.
Cadaver bone: This is bone tissue donated by patients who have passed away. If you lack bone density in other parts of your body, you can opt for donated natural bone tissue.
Bovine bone: This is bone graft material derived from cow bones. You can discuss the suitability of this with your doctor.
Synthetic materials: This is non-natural material that can act as natural bone tissue in your jaw. Synthetic bone graft material include ceramics such as calcium sulphate or bioglass. You can use polymer-based materials like polylactic acid polymer too. There are many options nowadays that you can discuss with your dentist.
Your dentist will recommend either one of the above, or more likely, a combination of bone graft materials to use in the surgery.
Stage 2: The Surgery
The sinus lifting procedure will be completed by an expert oral surgeon. You will first be sedated and then the procedure will begin.
There are several techniques that dentists use to lift the sinuses. All the techniques start by making an incision into gums to expose the bone. The oral surgeon will have to make a small hole in the bone to get access to the sinus. This is called a “lateral window.”
The window exposes the sinus membrane. The surgeon will then use a special tool, like a spatula, to uplift the sinus floor above the upper jawbone. This process is very delicate. In some cases, the membrane tears. If this happens, the oral surgeon will fix it, but it would take more time, and might result in complications.
When the sinus membrane is finally lifted, it makes a sort of a cavity area where the bone is now exposed. The oral surgeon will fill this area with the bone graft material. The material should fuse with the existing upper jawbone and add more density to it.
In the final part of the surgery, the oral surgeon would close the incision to the gum. The surgeon will place a collagen membrane to aid with healing. You will be stitched up and send to a recovery room.
Stage 3: Recovery Period
Recovering from the sinus lifting surgery is long term. There is an immediate recovery state where the oral surgeon will examine how well your wounds are healing.
Soon after the surgery, once you have woken up from being sedated, you will experience pain and discomfort in your sinus area. You may experience bleeding from your mouth and nose. The surgical area would be swollen. It would take several days for the swelling and inflammation to subside.
Your dentist will recommend medication at this point to aid in healing. You will be instructed to avoid blowing your nose hard for several days following the surgery. Any such forceful move could dislodge the bone graft material in your upper jaw.
About a week after the surgery, you will have to schedule a checkup with your dentist to ensure you are recovering as expected. In the meantime, you should immediately report any severe side effects to your dentist. For example, if the bleeding doesn’t stop after two days, you must inform your dentist right away.
Long Term Recovery
The stiches in the surgical would can come off 7 to 10 days after the procedure. Afterwards, you will have to wait 6 to 9 months for the wounds to completely heal and for the bone graft material to fuse into your upper jawline.
Your dentist would most likely recommend scheduling several visits to occasionally check up on your healing. Once the wounds heal, you would likely not feel any pain. But you should be careful until the graft material is fused.
When you are healed, you will be ready for the implant placement, which is a separate surgical procedure. The dentist can recommend you to wait up to 12 months until the jawbone is ready.
Remember, you will need to schedule additionally recovery time to heal from the wounds of the implant surgery. After the implants are placed, it can take another 4 to 9 months before you can get a dental crown or a bridge to form artificial teeth to replace missing ones.