A Root Canal

Internal Sinus Lifting And Maxillary Sinusitis: What You Need To Know

If you have one or more missing teeth, a dental implant can help restore your smile. Dentists can offer several types of implants, but surgery is often difficult in certain parts of the mouth. Sinus lifting is a form of dental surgery that can make it possible for a dentist to install an implant in your upper jaw, but this procedure can increase the risk of a disease called maxillary sinusitis. Find out how sinus lifting can affect your sinuses, and learn more about the risks you need to consider before you have this type of surgery.

Why the upper jaw implants are sometimes tricky

To successfully install a dental implant, you need to have enough bone height in the affected jaw. Bone loss sometimes occurs as a result of severe periodontal disease. If you have had missing teeth for a long time, you may also find that your body reabsorbs the remaining bone.

Anatomically, the upper jaw bone is also naturally thinner than the lower jaw, which means that an implant could damage one of your sinuses. The shape and size of the maxillary sinus next to the upper jaw varies between patients, but the sinus can also grow larger as you age. As such, upper jaw implants are often more complex in older patients.

How sinus lifting works

Sinus lifting (also called sinus grafting or sinus augmentation) is a surgical procedure that increases the amount of available bone in your upper jaw. A dental surgeon can use bone from another part of your body (autogenous bone) or from a donor. Surgeons can now even use bone matter from a cow.

There are various methods of sinus lifting. With internal sinus lifting, a surgeon will cut open the gum tissue where your back teeth were to expose the bone underneath. He or she will then open a small window in the bone, gently pushing the sinus membrane away from the jaw.

The surgeon will then insert small particles of bone material into the space where the sinus was. He or she will generally add several millimeters or bone to the jaw. After four to nine months, the wound will heal, allowing your dentist to install dental implants.

Unfortunately, complications can arise from this method.

Complications from internal sinus lifting

Internal sinus lifting normally leads to painful swelling and bruising, and a hematoma (a solid swelling of blood outside a blood vessel) can also sometimes develop. Studies show that around 20 percent of internal sinus lifting patients suffer from maxillary sinusitis.

As the name suggests, maxillary sinusitis is a painful infection that affects the maxillary sinus. Common symptoms include migraine, toothache and a pounding sensation around the eyes. Acute maxillary sinusitis can occur as a direct result of sinus graft surgery.

Chronic maxillary sinusitis is a more serious form of the condition that can cause long-term problems. Internal sinus lifting can exacerbate the symptoms of chronic sinusitis, but there is usually another underlying cause for the problem.

Risks to consider

People with a history preoperative maxillary sinusitis are at higher risk of complications than other patients. The sinus is more prone to injury or damage in these people because the membrane surface is already swollen or damaged. As such, when a dentist carries out the sinus lift surgery, he or she is more likely to aggravate the sinus.

On the other hand, people with chronic maxillary sinusitis can still benefit from internal sinus lifting. An internal sinus lift is less invasive than other methods, and the surgery can also protect special blood vessels in the maxilla bone, improving long-term bone health.

When discussing options for dental implant surgery, you should discuss any history of sinusitis with your dentist. He or she can also carefully evaluate the jaw bone with radiographic examinations to establish the best type of sinus lift surgery. In some cases, your dentist may recommend that you delay the surgery, especially if you still have any symptoms from a recent flare-up of sinusitis.

Sinus lifting surgery can increase the risk of maxillary sinusitis, especially for patients with a history of sinus infections. That aside, people with chronic sinusitis can still have upper jaw implants. Talk to your dentist--someone like Dale D. Lentz DDS--for more advice.