Before a dentist can place a dental implant into your jawbone, they must ensure that you have enough available bone to support a dental implant. In the lower jawbone, a dentist can simply place a bone graft when there isn't enough bone. But because the sinus cavity is just above your upper jaw, both dental implants and bone grafts are more difficult to place.
When a person loses a tooth in the upper jaw, immediate dental implant placement might not be possible. This is for several reasons.
Some people have larger sinuses
Everyone has four pairs of sinus cavities. The pair of sinuses that affect dental implant placement are the maxillary sinuses. These sinuses are behind your cheekbones and just above your upper jaw, which is known as the maxillary jawbone. Patients that have large maxillary sinuses usually have a problem with dental implant placement in the upper jaw because there isn't enough room.
When the sinuses are large or positioned very close to the roots of the upper teeth, a dental implant would likely protrude into the sinus cavity after placement.
There is less bone in the upper jawbone
The bone in the upper jaw is usually thinner than that of the lower jaw. But this also depends on two factors. Some patients naturally have a thin layer of bone separating their sinus cavity from their upper teeth. And if bone loss has occurred in the area, this is another reason for insufficient bone. This usually happens if a patient waited too long to replace the lost tooth with a dental implant.
In both of these cases, a bone graft is necessary to ensure that the dental implant does not protrude into the sinus cavity. Otherwise, the implant could fail in the near future and cause the patient to suffer from complications like headaches and sinus infections.
Thus, a sinus lift becomes necessary.
A sinus lift makes room for a bone graft
To place a bone graft in the aforementioned cases, the dentist needs to make room by lifting the sinus. They can do this by making an incision into the jawbone. The dentist can use this hole to push the sinus membrane upwards and make room for a bone graft, which can be placed into the newly available space.
Bone grafts usually take at least several months to integrate with a jawbone. But once healed, there will be enough bone for a dental implant.
For more information about dental implants, contact a dentist.