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What Is a Sinus Lift?

Sinus Lift Washington DC – Elite Prosthetic Dentistry

Top-Rated prosthodontist serving the greater Washington DC area provides sinus lift bone grafts using top-quality treatment methods and results.

During your annual dental exam, your dentist might recommend that you have dental implants inserted into your upper posterior jaw to replace a couple of missing teeth. Unfortunately, he also noticed that there isn’t enough bone to carry out the procedure and suggests that you be evaluated for sinus lift surgery.

It turns out that your jawbone, over time, had dissolved away due to the teeth being missing, and this is why you might benefit from a sinus lift.

During your consultation with award-winning prosthodontist Dr. Gerald Marlin, he will carefully consider your experience at your dentist and provide honest and valuable information about the best solutions for making it possible for you to receive dental implants.

To take the next step, contact Elite Prosthetic Dentistry online or call (202) 244-2101 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Marlin. He and our expert team welcome dental patients from the Washington metropolitan area, including Arlington, Alexandria, Bethesda, and Potomac, from around the country and abroad. Our office is conveniently located one block from the Friendship Heights Metro Stop on Wisconsin Ave in the Chevy Chase-Friendship Heights region.

What is a Sinus Lift ?

A sinus lift, also known as a sinus augmentation, is performed by award-winning prosthodontist Dr. Gerald Marlin in Washington, D.C., to add a bone graph to the upper portion of the jaw, making it possible to place dental implants when there is not enough bone to do so (see Fig 1, below).

The bone graph is placed between the maxillary sinuses (which border the left and right sides of the nose) and the jaw itself. To make room for this bone graph, the membrane of the sinuses is moved upward, which is why the procedure is referred to as a “sinus lift.”

The sinus lift is sought after because it makes it possible for patients to have dental implants rather than removable partial dentures when missing some teeth or looser full dentures when missing all of your teeth, either of which are a less popular option.

Who Needs a Sinus Lift?

As more people opt for dental implants rather than dentures to replace missing teeth, sinus lifts have become more common.

A sinus lift may be necessary if teeth and bone are missing from the back of your jaw or near your sinuses. Jawbone and teeth in this area could be lost due to congenital disabilities, periodontal disease, cancer, other medical conditions, or simply the natural healing process after an extraction. A sinus lift can also be necessary because your sinuses are simply located too close to your upper jaw and more space is needed to place the implant.

If you are wondering why you might have undergone bone loss, here are some of the causes:

Losing teeth from your upper jaw will, inherently, cause reabsorption of bone into the body after losing teeth, therefore,

  • Teeth extracted without a simultaneous bone graft to preserve the socket will lose extra bone
  • Periodontal disease or excessive bone loss around the teeth before they were extracted

What Determines the Success of a Sinus Lift Graft?

A successful, long-lasting dental implant depends on the quality and quantity of jawbone inserted into it.  In our office, we combine bone graft particles with a growth factor to enhance bone apposition and density. When bone has been lost due to periodontal disease or bone loss at extraction, a sinus lift raises the sinus floor and bone graft material is placed between the new sinus level and the ridge of bone. The graft material is subsequently converted to the patient’s own bone. As one of the most frequent bone grafting procedures for dental patients, the sinus lift procedure aims at growing bone below the sinus floor, enabling dental implants to be anchored into this new bone growth (see example cases, below).

Most patients are candidates for the sinus lift procedure. We greatly enhance the probability of success of the sinus lift procedure by performing the following strict protocol:

  1. Take a CBCT scan (CT scan) of the upper Jaw (See figure 2) and measure bone height and quality
  2. Have a radiologist review the CT scan to rule out any abnormalities 
  3. For the internal sinus lift (See figure 3), place a virtual implant on the CT scan to determine how much the membrane must be raised
  4. Precisely measure the distance between the ridge and the sinus membrane (See figure 3)
  5. Precisely prepare the osteotome (implant site) using a precision, CBCT generated surgical guide and special drills that raise the membrane, but do not perforate it
  6. Insert the bone graft material that serves as a cushion when inserting the implant into the sinus
  7. Insert the implant and take an X-ray to assure the result
Dr. Gerald Marlin

Simply Radiant, Simply Natural

Dr. Gerald Marlin is a leading specialist in implant, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry. One of the only prosthodontists with an on-site lab, Dr. Marlin has been voted “Top Dentist” by his peers for more than 20 years in a row in Washingtonian Magazine’s annual “Best Dentist” survey, and is considered the most experienced prosthodontist in the D.C. area.

How Long will my Implants Inserted in a Sinus Lift Bone Graft Last?

While no one can give you a definite time line on how long your implant(s) will last, we at Elite Prosthetic Dentistry have a very high success rate with over 97-98% implants still in place at least 10-20 years after their insertion. The vast majority of the 3,400 implants that Dr. Marlin inserted and restored over the last 35 years have undergone almost no bone loss. This very high success rate results from our very strict surgical protocol, including:

  1. Site preparation with very high-quality bone prior to implant insertion
  2. Precision implant placement
  3. Meticulous attention to detail when creating the final abutment and crowns using all-natural, “emergence profile” (proper natural tooth shape at the implant’s location)
  4. A very rigorous hygiene maintenance program. We will address your long-term implant prognosis at your consultation visit.

What Are the Types of Sinus Lift Procedures?

The Internal Sinus Lift: when preparing the implant site (called an osteotome), a special drill is used to gently raise the sinus membrane to make room for the bone graft. The internal sinus lift (see yellow arrow) is a more conservative, highly effective technique used mainly with simultaneous implant placement. In this example, a hopelessly fractured tooth (Fig. 4) is removed and a bone graft inserted (Fig. 5). After 4 months, the implant site is prepared to the sinus membrane, the membrane lightly raised and a bone graft (yellow arrow) inserted below the sinus membrane followed by implant placement (Fig. 6). Please note that these procedures are sometimes performed at the time of the tooth extraction. However, these techniques should not be combined unless the implant has at least 1/2 to 2/3 of its threads secured in the extraction socket. The prognosis could be adversely affected with resulting gum inflammation and/or bone loss.

Fig. 4: Hopelessly Fractured Tooth

Fig. 5: Tooth Extracted, Bone Graft Placed

Fig. 6: Implant Placed with a Sinus Lift at the Top

The External Sinus Lift: An external sinus lift, where there is very little or no bone to work with (Fig. 7), is performed before the actual implant placement and usually covers the floor of the sinus on one side below its protective membrane (Fig. 8). Once the bone has matured, the implants are inserted (Fig. 9) and then restored with crowns or other appliances (Fig. 10) 4 months later.

Although some practitioners place the implants when creating the external sinus lift, we do not subscribe to that regimen. After all, the external sinus lift is being performed because there is not enough bone to ideally secure the implant in the first place. Since the graft material, itself, has no strength until it has matured, there is very little bone supporting the implant while it integrates. Once again, implants that have not been ideally situated in the strongest bone with an adequate amount of gum tissue around them are subject to gum (gingival) inflammation and/or bone loss.

Fig. 7: No Bone Available to Receive any Implant

Fig.8: Bone Graft Placed in an External Sinus Lift

Fig. 9: Implants Placed in the Matured Bone Graft

Fig. 10: Crowns Seated over the Implants

What Happens Before a Sinus Lift Procedure?

If you’re planning on having sinus lift surgery, Dr. Marlin will first decide whether it will be an internal or external one. He will use a CBCT scan (CT scan) to meticulously evaluate the best method, including performing a “virtual reality” by precisely “placing” implant images on the scan for best aesthetic and functional results (see “What Determines the Success of a Sinus Lift Graft?”, above).

What Happens During the Sinus Lift Procedure?

The sinus lift site is prepared by GENTLY lifting the sinus membrane, thereby creating a space to receive the graft. The area opened up below it is then filled with bone grafting material.

After the bone graft is implanted, the surgical site is closed, and healing begins. In most internal sinus lift procedures, the implants are simultaneously inserted.

As stated, with external sinus lift procedures, the implants are usually inserted afterwards, when the bone has become a permanent part of the patient’s jaw, because a greater amount of bone graft material has been inserted and needs to first mature. The implants are inserted after a 6–12-month integration period, when the new bone merges with your existing bone.

In our office sinus lift surgery is generally performed under local anesthesia in combination either with oral or I.V. sedation for our patients’ best comfort.

What Happens After a Sinus Lift?

Most people experience only a little discomfort after their sinus lift. You might experience some swelling of the area, and there may be some light bleeding in the days following your surgery.

Dr. Marlin may provide you with saline sprays to moisten the inside lining of your nose and prescribe decongestant medication to prevent inflammation and congestion. You will also receive an antibiotic, pain medicine, and an antimicrobial mouth rinse to prevent infection. Most of our patients only require an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and/or acetaminophen (Tylenol) , although we prescribe pain medication as a precaution.

What Is Recovery Like After a Sinus Lift?

Most often, the recovery is mild.

After your procedure, it’s crucial to avoid frequently blowing your nose or sneezing, to prevent movement of the bone-graft material and/or loosening of the stitches.

You’ll be scheduled to see Dr. Marlin after two weeks for him to examine the surgical area. If necessary, he will remove any sutures. You may be asked to make a few more return visits to ensure that the site is healing as expected.

Real Patient Results

When it comes to your smile, you deserve the best. Review our many satisfied patients’ incredible transformations by viewing our before and after gallery!

Elite Prosthetic Dentistry’s Problem-Solving Approach

Dr. Marlin and his team at Elite Prosthetic Dentistry are well-known amongst their colleagues and patients for their exceptional ability to solve even the most complex dental problems. His methods have helped countless patients achieve a brilliant smile, often under the most desperate circumstances.

During the process, Dr. Marlin will:

  • See you for a friendly and informative consultation in which you can meet him and the team, ask questions, and discuss your different options.
  • Locate the problems using advanced dental technology and present his findings in a presentation containing photos, scans, and models to show you what is possible.
  • Formulate a carefully considered plan of action for your full mouth reconstruction.
  • Have all materials created to specification in our state-of-the-art in-house lab.
  • Execute this plan with meticulous precision, high levels of safety, and utmost professionalism.

Dr. Marlin understands that having sinus lift surgery to support dental implants is a significant decision. Because of this, we encourage each patient to take the time to fully consider their options before proceeding.

How Much Does a Sinus Lift Cost in Washington DC?

Because we tailor each procedure to meet the patient’s particular concerns and needs, the cost of this treatment will vary. We will discuss procedural costs with you once Dr. Marlin has adequately evaluated you. We also have financing, flexible payment, and insurance options available for those interested.

Schedule Your Washington DC Sinus Lift Consultation Today

To schedule your sinus lift procedure with our trusted, experienced, caring prosthodontist, please call (202) 244-2101 to request a consultation with Dr. Marlin. Elite Prosthetic Dentistry proudly serves patients from Washington DC, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Arlington, and nearby areas of Maryland and Virginia, as well as those who travel to our practice from out-of-state or out-of-country. We look forward to meeting you soon. 

Sinus Lift FAQs

We use a special bone material from a bone bank combined with a “growth factor” to stimulate growth.

In cases where patients have insufficient bone to support the implant in the posterior upper jaw, dental implants are not an option if a sinus lift or ridge augmentation is not performed.

There should be no alteration to the normal function of your sinuses or breathing after your sinus lift.

Yes, as with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks associated with a sinus lift. As a highly experienced and renowned prosthodontist, Dr. Marlin is well prepared to minimize the risks associated with a sinus lift for your case by utilizing reliable preparation and surgical methods. Problems are extremely infrequent after a sinus lift surgery with Dr. Marlin, but if anything were to happen, Dr. Marlin and our team would be readily available to help correct the problem. Safety, professionalism, care, and the highest quality results are the cornerstones of our practice.