Sinus lift or sinus floor augmentation is a surgical procedure performed to increase the amount of bone in the posterior region of the upper jawbone or maxilla. Rehabilitation of the upper posterior region using dental implants can be problematic because of the extension of the maxillary sinus into the alveolar ridge area. In most cases the configuration of the alveolar bone is satisfactory with respect to the height and width of the bone. However, in some cases the extension of the maxillary sinuses into the alveolar ridge may prevent placement of dental implants in the posterior portion of the upper jaw because of insufficient bony support. A sinus lift procedure in actuality is a bony augmentation procedure that places graft material inside the sinus and increases the bony support for a future dental implant.
The sinus lift procedure is usually performed when more than one dental implant will be placed in the area and or if there is very limited bone present. The procedure involves making an opening in the lateral aspect of the maxillary wall. After access to the sinus is obtained the lining of the sinus is carefully elevated from the bony floor. Bone graft material is placed underneath the lining membrane to provide bulk. The membrane is placed back and allowed to heal. The graft material will be replaced by bone, which will provide good support for the future implants. The healing of the sinus augmentation can take from 4-6 months. The cost of the procedure can vary depending on the complexity, the amount of graft material needed and the region of the country the procedure is performed. Usually the procedure will set you back between 1000 to 1300 dollars. The procedure can be covered by dental insurance and in some cases even medical insurance can cover part of the cost depending on the plan. Obtaining a preauthorization from insurance is always recommended to eliminate any surprises.
In situations where a single dental implant will be placed in the posterior portion of the maxilla and only some bony support is lacking, a sinus tap can be performed. Sinus tap is a procedure very similar to a sinus lift in that it provides extra bone for a future dental implant. The main differences between the two procedures are that the sinus tap is preformed during placement of the implant. The membrane is lifted directly through the preparation site of the dental implant. This means that it is much less invasive that a sinus lift procedure. After the implant site is prepared a bone graft material is placed directly underneath the sinus membrane. Afterwards the implant is placed in a proper position and allowed to heal for about 4-6 months. The sinus tap procedure eliminates the need for two surgical procedures.