Prior to implant insertion, a surgeon must verify that the jaw bone is strong and thick enough to hold implants. In some cases, the bone is weakened by infection or part of it could be missing altogether because of a tooth extraction. In cases when the upper jaw is too thin to hold an implant, a sinus lift (sinus augmentation) surgery is performed.
Sinus lift procedure adds bone graft to upper jaw in the area of molars and premolars. The bone is added between the upper jaw and the maxillary sinuses, which are on either side of a patients’ nose.
Bone graft is a man-made or natural material that is used to heal the jaw bone or make it denser. Although bone graft surgery can be prescribed for a number of reasons, it is often used in association with dental implant placements.
If the bone graft surgery is deemed necessary, the doctor would open the gum tissue and place the graft into the bone areas requiring repairs. Once the graft is applied, the bone must be allowed to heal or regenerate. During the gradual process of regeneration, elements of the graft promote the growth of the jaw bone and integrate into it. With time, the new bone growth is indistinguishable from the original bone.
Healing time will vary upon overall health of the patient as well as his or her oral hygiene habits. For instance, smoking has been linked to bone graft failure. However, the average time for an extraction site to heal and be ready for implant placement is about 6 weeks. After the healing is complete, the graft will become the actual bone with densities appropriate for implant placement.