Sinus augmentation

What is a sinus lift?

Seattle Dental Implants & Prosthodontics – Seattle, WA

What is a sinus augmentation?

The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper posterior (back) teeth. These sinuses are empty, air-filled spaces. They are covered with thin membranous lining called Schneiderian membrance. Some of the roots of the natural upper teeth are long enough to extend up into the maxillary sinus cavity. When these teeth are removed, there is often only a thin wall of bone separating the sinus and the oral cavity (mouth). For dental implants to be successful, sufficient bone is needed to hold them in place. With a thin bone under the sinus floor, it is not possible to place an implant. For optimal results, the quality and quantity of bone material to which the implant will be anchored to is paramount.


If for any reason, bone loss has occurred or there is not enough bone quantity for implant placement in the area, a sinus augmentation can be done. The procedure involves the separation of Schneiderian membrance from the sinus floor and lift it up to the level the proper implant can be placed followed by filling that newly created space under the lifted Schneiderian membrane with bone graft material. A sinus augmentation is one of the most common bone grafting procedures for patients with bone loss in the upper jaw.

How is this procedure done?

Depending on the amount of necessary lifting, there are two different procedural approach.

The original sinus augmentation procedure is called a lateral window technique. After a small incision is made in the gum near the area where the implant is being placed. A small opening is made on the bone, a bony window, to give a direct view of the maxillary sinus. The Schneiderian membrane lining of the sinus is gently separated using the special instruments, called negotiation, and pushed upward. The underlying space is filled with bone grafting material. Once the bone graft is placed, the implant can sometimes be placed during the same procedure as long as it can be firmly anchored. The incision is stitched-up and regeneration commences.

The other sinus augmentation procedure is called Summers technique. It is only recommended when the lifting amount is minimal. Without a bony window, the lifting of the Schneiderian membrane is done through a drilling hole prepared for the implant utilizing the specialized instruments such as osteotomes or reamers. Since it is a blind technique which does not allow the direct vision of what is done, a higher rate of membrane perforation is reported. As a result, it is only recommended in conditions where perforation, if happens, can be easily healed with minimal complications.

After adequate healing time (approximately 3-6 months) has occurred, Dr. Chung will either begin the restorative portion if he was able to place the implant at the same time, or he will determine if you can ‘move ahead’ for the implant surgery. This procedure is also completed in our downtown office location and is done under local anesthesia unless the patient requests a sedation.