Q: I want to place an implant for my missing upper molar tooth and have been told that I need a sinus lift. Is it something I should be concerned about?
A: Upper first molar teeth (along with lower first molar teeth) are among the most common teeth that need replacing because they are teeth which are most often associated with root canal failures and fractures.
The upper first molars are very commonly associated with the sinus as the two are in very close proximity to each other. The maxillary sinuses are the same sinuses most commonly associated with ‘sinusitis’, which almost everyone has had at some point in their lives. These sinuses grow in size – a process called ‘pneumatisation’ – almost from the day the upper teeth are extracted. Therefore, the longer you wait after extraction the more likely you will need a sinus lift. Traditionally, a sinus lift is done to move the sinus membrane out of the way while placing an implant so that the implant has sufficient bone around it and is stable for many years.
The process of a sinus lift isn’t as scary as it sounds. The process starts with a CBCT 3D scan to visualise the bone levels. Then a decision is made whether a crestal (from the tooth side) or a lateral sinus lift (from the side of the sinus) is required. The crestal approach is usually the preferred one now as its less invasive. The actual lift can be done with some light malleting or special drills that push the bone instead of removing it. Then depending on the amount of bone remaining, some bone graft can be added.
The entire process can take about 30 minutes in experienced hands.
After the sinus lift is done, more often than not we place the implants immediately, provided sufficient native (non-grafted) bone is available. Otherwise the implant placement can be delayed by about three months till native bone replaces or grows through the bone graft material.
In almost all cases sinus lifting is a fairly non-invasive procedure and is quite pain free in experienced hands. Complications are rare and if they do arise are usually easily managed.
Dr Tanveer Ahmed is medical director at New Ivory Dental & Implant Clinic. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.