We often have to rebuild bone structure that is now not present when we are planning to place dental implants. The reason that we often find ourselves with not enough bone is that over a period of time, the jawbone associated with missing teeth atrophies or is reabsorbed (melts away). This leaves a condition in which there is poor quality and quantity of bone, making successful placement of implants very difficult.
Bone grafting can repair implant sites with inadequate bone structure due to previous extractions, gum disease or injuries. The bone is either obtained from a tissue bank or your own body. This can often be obtained from areas within the mouth, with hip or tibial bone (below the knee) is used for larger defects.
When we place bone grafts we often use special membranes that enable the bone to heal and encourage bone regeneration. These membranes dissolve under the gum and protect the bone graft. This is called guided bone regeneration or guided tissue regeneration.
Sinus Lift Procedure
When considering placing implants in the upper jaw, we may perform a sinus lift procedure. The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper teeth. Sinuses are empty hollow spaces with a thick floor lining. Some of the roots of the upper teeth extend up into the maxillary sinuses and are covered by the floor lining. When these upper teeth are removed, there is often just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. Dental implants need bone to hold them in place. When the sinus wall is very thin, it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone.
There is a solution and it’s called a sinus graft or sinus lift graft. Your surgeon enters the sinus from where the upper teeth used to be. The sinus membrane (floor lining) is then lifted upward and donor bone is inserted into the floor of the sinus. Keep in mind that the floor of the sinus is the roof of the upper jaw. After several months of healing, the bone becomes part of the patient’s jaw and dental implants can be inserted and stabilized in this new sinus bone.