Sinus Bone Grafting For Dental Implants

Sinus Graft

When molar teeth are lost in the posterior (back) upper jaw, it is common to find that the maxillary sinuses become larger and occupy the space in the bone where implants are needed. This problem can often be dealt with by using shorter implants that are wider in diameter.

However, it is sometimes necessary to pursue a conservative approach to grafting bone in the floor of the sinus to create a dome of additional bone to secure one or more implants. An analogy for this type of graft would be to picture the sinus like a tire with an inner tube inside of it.  Imagine poking your finger through the tread of the tire then “tenting” the inner tube inward. We can do this same thing with the floor of the sinus then place some bone grafting material in the space created.

Types of Sinus Grafting For Dental Implants

There are two main types of sinus grafting that are utilized for dental implants:

1. Minor Sinus Grafting (Osteotome Sinus Lift)

With an osteotome sinus lift, there remains at least 5mm of bone before the sinus cavity is reached.  In this procedure, an implant can often be placed at the same time as the sinus lift is performed.  A space is prepared for the implant leaving a very thin layer of bone covering the sinus cavity, then this is gently tapped and lifted upward, similar to a tent pole lifting a tent. 

2. Major Sinus Grafting (Lateral Window Sinus Lift)

When the height of bone remaining  is 4mm or less, a more direct approach is necessary to safely lift the sinus floor and provide enough bone for implants.  It is often more predictable to grow bone for the implant prior to implant placement, so this procedure will take more healing time than a minor sinus grafting procedure.  During a lateral window sinus lift, a small “window” is created to expose the underlying membrane so bone grafting material can be introduced and allowed to heal.  After adequate healing, dental implants can be placed safely with robust support for your future tooth replacement.


Before Sinus Grafting

After Sinus Grafting

Will The Sinus Graft Affect My Sinuses?

Research supports that sinus grafting is safe and predictable with no increased risk of future sinus problems in those that have healthy sinuses.  If you are prone to chronic sinus infections, please inform Dr. Schaberg or Dr. Campbell during your examination.  It is important that every sinus grafting procedure undergoes a cone-beam x-ray prior to examine the health of your sinus to ensure you are a good candidate for this procedure.  This x-ray is the dental version of a CAT-scan, and can be completed at your initial examination.