Are you considering a sinus lift and an implant at the same time? Here’s what you need to know.
Basics of an implant
When a tooth is injured or decayed, there are a few options for treatment. For small cavities, a filling can rectify the problem. Sometimes a crown is all that is needed to treat a tooth. In some instances, however, there is too much damage to salvage the tooth. In that case, an extraction is the safest option. In the case of extractions, many individuals opt for an implant to replace the extracted tooth.
An implant consists of an artificial tooth root (a titanium post) that is surgically inserted into the bone in the jaw. The dentist then attaches the replacement tooth to this post. For the implant to be secure, having good quality bone is key to a successful implant.
Understanding a sinus lift
The sinuses are empty, or hollow, civilities throughout the skull. Even though they are hollow, they serve an important purpose – to lighten the skull and produce mucus that is used to provide moisture in the nose. There are several different sinuses; some are in the cheekbones, while others are in the forehead and behind the nasal bones. In particular, the maxillary sinuses, located in the cheekbones, are the sinuses involved in a sinus lift.
A sinus lift is a bone graft; it is a procedure that is performed when the patient’s upper jaw lacks the proper quantity of bone for an implant. During the procedure, an incision is made into the gum, revealing the bone. The dentist then cuts the bone and pushes it upward. As the bone moves upward, it also pushes the sinus up too, essentially “lifting” it. Bone grafting material is then packed into the space created by pushing the bone upwards.
Should you get a sinus lift and an implant at the same time?
Typically, the sinus lift is performed before the implant for one crucial reason: for the bone to heal. Many studies indicate bone grafts take about three months to heal fully. Because the post is being inserted into the bone, it makes sense to let the bone graft heal before inserting a titanium rod into it. There are a few other circumstances in which a sinus lift and implant should not be done at the same time:
- If there is a sizeable infection present
- If bone scans and pre-surgery exams indicate that there might not be enough stability to perform the implant immediately
However, depending on the size of the bone graft and the individual circumstances of a patient, a sinus lift, and an implant can be done at the same time. Each case must be examined individually by the dentist before this decision can be made. Opting to do this two procedures at the same time can potentially reduce healing time by 8-12 weeks so long as the implanted tooth has enough stability to undergo the rigors of chewing.
Whether you opt for a sinus lift and implant at the same time or you choose two separate surgeries, remember to closely follow any after care instructions from your dentist to ensure the smoothest healing.