Every year, more than two million missing teeth are replaced by dental implants, a popular, durable alternative to traditional dentures. Unlike dentures and bridges that rest on top of your gums, dental implants are embedded into your jawbone, making them extremely secure.
For dental implants to be stable and functional, you need to have enough natural bone tissue to support the implant once it’s embedded. If you don’t have enough natural bone tissue, you’ll need to have a special procedure to supplement your natural bone and provide that necessary security for your implant.
While a thin lower jaw can be supplemented with a bone graft placed at the same time as your implant, the upper jaw is a bit different. If your upper jaw is too thin to support an implant, you need a treatment called a sinus lift.
Brandon Kang, DDS, and our team at Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center in Oakland, California, have extensive experience in minimally invasive sinus lift procedures. If Dr. Kang recommends this procedure for your implant, here’s what to expect during your procedure and afterward.
How sinus lift surgery works
Your sinuses are just above your palate and upper tooth roots. In sinus lift surgery, Dr. Kang gently lifts your sinus membrane, then inserts bone graft material into the area. The graft material fuses with your natural bone, augmenting it. In fact, sinus lift surgery is often referred to as sinus augmentation.
Once the graft material is in place, it takes several months for it to fuse and form new bone. In traditional sinus lift surgery that uses a cheek incision, the implants are placed once the new bone has fused and formed.
Dr. Kang uses a minimally invasive technique for sinus lift surgery. In this approach, Dr. Kang makes an incision in your gum tissue to access your bone. Then he makes a tiny hole to access your sinus and place the graft material. This approach also allows him to place the implant at the same time as the graft in most patients.
Implant placement isn’t the only time sinus lift surgery is performed. Dr. Kang also frequently uses the technique to repair damaged bone tissue following a traumatic injury or to supplement natural bone tissue that’s deteriorated due to advanced gum disease or other diseases.
Recovering after sinus lift surgery
It’s completely normal to have some discomfort after your surgery, but because Dr. Kang uses a minimally invasive approach, you can generally manage it with over-the-counter medication. Talk to Dr. Kang before taking any pain medicine.
It’s also normal for the area to be swollen and tender. Avoid pressing the area with your tongue, and don’t touch it with your fingers. It’s OK to gently rinse your mouth the day after your surgery, but let the water out slowly.
Don’t use a straw to drink during the initial healing phase, and don’t spit for 48 hours after your surgery. You’ll also need to avoid blowing your nose for 4-6 weeks while the area heals. Take your antibiotics as directed, and don’t smoke — smoking can interfere with healing.
Make sure to keep all of your follow-up appointments. Usually, the first appointment is scheduled about a week after your surgery. Finally, call our office if you have any questions or concerns.
Learn more about dental implants
Dental implants offer plenty of benefits over dentures and bridges, and thanks to state-of-the-art techniques like sinus lift surgery, implants can be a great choice for just about everyone. To learn more about sinus lift surgery or dental implants, book an appointment with Dr. Kang online or over the phone today.