A sinus lift is a procedure to increase the bone height on the posterior maxilla. The bone is added between the residual maxillary bone and the maxillary sinuses (which are on either side of the nose). A sinus lift is performed when dental implants are required on the posterior maxilla and there isn't enough bone height in the upper jaw, or the maxillary sinuses are too large, a condition that would prevent the insertion of dental implants. The procedure involves making an incision on the gum tissue near where the back teeth used to be, raising the tissue and exposing the bone. Then a small window is opened in the bone and the membrane lining the sinus is gently pushed up and away from the jaw allowing for a bone-grafting material to be packed into the space where the sinus was. This area is then closed with sutures and the dental implant will be able to be placed, either simultaneously, if there is enough residual bone available to provide stability to the implant, or around 6-9 months later, once the grafting material has been incorporated with new bone.
There can be some swelling of the area, and occasional bleeding from the mouth or nose. It is recommended not to blow your nose or sneeze forcefully during the first few days after the procedure. Most patients have only a small amount of discomfort after the operation, and there is a follow up appointment after 10-14 days to evaluate the site and remove the stitches.
The main risk is that the sinus membrane could be punctured or torn, in which case the periodontist will repair the tear with a collagen membrane. If the rupture is too large, then the procedure would be stopped and the membrane will be given time to heal. Post-operative infection and or bleeding are also possible risks that are rarely encountered with this type of procedure.