A dental implant is essentially an artificial tooth root which is placed within the jaw bone. The bone then bonds to the implant and a crown or bridge can be attached to replace missing teeth. The key to a successful and long-lasting implant is the quality and quantity of jawbone to which the implant will be attached.
In the upper back jaw area, the available bone for implant placement is often limited by the location and size of the upper jaw sinus in the region. The sinus is a hollow structure - above the upper teeth and below the eyes. Many times not enough bone is available for implant placement due to position of sinus, infection, injury or periodontal disease. This lack of bone can be replaced with a sinus augmentation, which raises the sinus floor to allow space for new bone formation.
In the most common sinus augmentation technique (usually done in the office and shown above), a tiny incision is made near the upper premolar or molar region to expose the jawbone. A small opening is made in the bone and the lining the sinus on the other side of the opening is gently pushed upward. The underlying space is filled with bone graft material and the incision is closed. The bone graft used for this procedure can be obtained from various sources and materials and in some cases special materials are used that will stimulate bone formation. The implants are placed either a the same time as grafting or after healing has occurred; this healing time is about 4-6 months, but depends on the individual case. Sinus augmentation has shown to be a predictable procedure to increase the success of dental implant procedures.