The maxillary sinus is a hollow chamber which lies above the upper posterior teeth (molars and premolars). It has no important biological function, and serves merely as one of many chambers in which air circulates and is humidified. The maxillary sinus increases in size and volume as one ages. When the teeth beneath it are lost, the sinus may increase even further in size, occupying most of the area where the teeth had been. Often, there is not enough bone remaining in these areas in order to place dental implants. For centuries, missing back teeth were replaced with removable partial dentures. Since the late 1960’s, the literature has shown reports of successful grafts into the sinus areas in order to increase bone volume. Today, this procedure is widely used as a means to support dental implants and avoid removable dentures. Current research shows a remarkable implant survival rate of over 92% in these grafted sinus areas – the same success rate as seen in non-grafted sites. There are two different methods by which grafts are placed into the maxillary sinus:
If the area to be grafted is relatively small and the anatomy of the sinus is favorable, a minimally invasive localized procedure is performed in which the graft material is advanced into the sinus by an instrument (Osteotome) through a small opening made through the gums and bone in the site of the missing tooth. This is called an Osteotome Sinus Lift procedure.
For larger areas, a Lateral Window Sinus Lift procedure can be performed. In this procedure, a “window” is made through the bone on the side of the sinus in the area above the missing teeth and the graft material is placed directly into the sinus space. These two procedures provide an alternative to dentures for the replacement of the upper back teeth and are performed on a routine basis. Dr. Kaufman will discuss with you if you are a candidate for sinus elevation procedure and which method of the procedure is best for you.BACK