What is a Sinus Lift?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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Also known as a sinus lift procedure or augmentation, a sinus lift is a surgical strategy that helps to increase the mass of the bone in the maxilla or top jaw. A dental specialist who is trained in the surgery generally performs the procedure. One of the main benefits of a sinus lift is that the insertion of dental implants is much more likely to be successful in terms of appearance, utility, and comfort for the patient.

In order to perform sinus lift surgery, bone is harvested from some other area of the body. Utilizing bone from the patient rather than the donor helps to minimize the chances for complications at a later date. Often, the material is harvested from the iliac crest. In situations where harvesting bone from the patient is not practical, artificial bone grafting materials are utilized instead. The grafts are normally situated on the lower region of the maxillary sinus.


Advances in sinus lifts occurred in the 1980’s and have since come to include several variations on the basic procedure. The lateral window approach is one of the older procedures, involving the detachment of the sinus membrane. Once the membrane is detached, it is rotated medially into the sinus and the general area for the implants is prepared. After the implants are positioned, any lateral part of the sinus material is grafted into place. The graft is generally left in position for six to nine months, allowing the healing process to take place.

Another example of a dental sinus lift is a process known as the osteotome approach was developed during the 1990’s. This procedure involves making a crestal incision and exposing the crestal ridge. The surgeon utilizes an osteotome to more or less create an indentation that is more or less rectangular in nature, much in the same way that a chisel could be used to create a design on a concrete wall. A sinus lift osteotome is then employed to create a fracture in the bone, including a hole centered in the rectangle and leading to the sinus floor. The grafting compounds are used to raise the sinus and prepare the area for the reception of the implants.

In 2005, the process of hydraulic sinus condensing was developed. This type of implant sinus lift also calls for the creation of an incision at the crestal ridge of the maxilla. The sinus membrane is raised off the sinus floor using an osteotome as the tool to direct water pressure into the area. Once the membrane is raised to the proper level, the grafting material is put into place, followed by the implants.

As with any type of invasive procedure, there is the chance for infection with a sinus lift. In addition, the graft may fail to take, resulting in additional complications, including loose implants or a shift of the implants into an undesirable position. For this reason, the progress and general condition of the patient after a sinus lift is normally monitored very closely.


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