Sinus Expansion Due to Missing Teeth

What are the Sinuses?

The sinuses are a connective system of hollow cavities that are located in the skull. The skull contains four pairs of paranasal cavities. The types of paranasal sinuses include:

  • The frontal sinuses which are located on each side of the forehead.
  • There are between 6-12 pairs of ethmoid sinuses on each side of the nose.
  • A pair of sphenoid sinuses are located behind the ethmoid sinuses.
  • The maxillary sinuses are located in each cheek.

Due to the location of the maxillary sinuses, when teeth are missing or extracted the sinus cavity may be affected. Oral surgeons must be very careful when removing upper teeth because of the closeness of the sinus cavity and the tooth root. Undiagnosed sinus perforations can lead to sinus drainage or infections.

What is Sinus Expansion?

If teeth are extracted or lost in the upper arch of the mouth, sinus expansion may occur. Sinus expansion is when the maxillary sinus cavities, which are located directly above the upper arch, begin to enlarge. Once they begin to increase in size, the jaw bone begins to erode and deteriorates the bone needed for dental implants.

When all teeth are present in the mouth, the maxillary sinuses are protected which prevents any bone loss from occurring. This is why replacing missing teeth is such an importance to your oral and overall health.

What is Sinus Lift Surgery?

A sinus lift is a surgical procedure that increases the bone density in the upper jaw. It is necessary for those who are in need of dental implants to replace any missing teeth but are affected by sinus expansion. Dental implants need strong and durable bone to be able to support and anchor the implant screw. The expansion of the sinus cavities causes the bone to erode.

Sinus lift surgery or augmentation replaces the missing bone, which in turn, lifts the sinus cavity back to its normal position. This creates a stronger foundation for dental implants to be placed.

What to Expect

A sinus lift procedure is typically performed four months before placing a dental implant. This allows the jaw bone to fully heal in order to support the implant. During surgery, general anesthesia will be given to numb the area. Once the area is numb, an incision will be made in the gum tissue to expose the bone. The sinus cavity will then be gently pushed upward into its appropriate position and grafting material will then be packed into place. The tissue is then sutured shut and the healing process begins.

The Healing Process

It is normal for patients to feel mild discomfort the first week following the procedure, however, the swelling and discomfort will subside. It is important to follow up with our specialists to ensure everything is healing properly. The healing process normally lasts between 2-3 days. Once the healing is complete, the next step is scheduling an appointment to insert the dental implant.

Sinus Expansion Due to Missing Teeth

One of the consequences of losing top teeth, is that the sinus cavity will expand, causing several further problems, if not treated early. Let’s take a look at the progression of sinus expansion after upper tooth loss: