Does Sinus Surgery Work with Dental Implants?

Posted by Dr. John Paul Gallardo, DDS, PA
Does Sinus Surgery Work with Dental Implants?
Sinusitis occurs when the tissue lining the sinuses becomes inflamed.

According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, approximately 3 million people in the U.S. already have dental implants.

Dental implants are considered the gold standard for tooth replacement, with approximately 3 million people in the U.S. benefiting from this procedure. However, tooth loss can cause structural damage to the mouth and jaw, and in some cases, dental implants may be complicated by sinus issues.

This article will discuss sinus surgery, dental implants, and how they are related, as well as the benefits and potential risks involved in these procedures. 

What is Sinus Surgery?

Sinus surgery is a procedure performed to treat sinusitis, a condition where the tissue lining the sinuses becomes inflamed, causing blockage and germ-producing fluid. When the fluid produces a sinus infection, a person will have painful pressure and discomfort in the facial area. Sinus surgery aims to alleviate these symptoms by removing the blockage and allowing for proper drainage.

What are Dental Implants?

Endosseous implants, also known as dental implants, are a popular treatment option for replacing missing teeth in the posterior maxilla. Over time, the implant fuses with the jawbone, creating a stable foundation for a dental crown or bridge to be attached.

The implant dentist or maxillofacial surgeon will consider the clinical situation and the patient’s oral health before proceeding with the implant insertion.

Dental implants are an effective and long-lasting solution for tooth loss, as they not only restore the appearance of a natural tooth but also help maintain the integrity of the jawbone and surrounding teeth.

How Are Sinus Surgery and Dental Implants Related?

The proximity of the maxillary sinus cavity to the upper jaw is the primary factor for determining the relationship between sinus surgery and dental implants. The maxillary sinuses, which are located near the upper teeth, can become inflamed as a result of a variety of conditions, including oral health issues.

Sometimes, sinus surgery may be necessary before dental implant placement to ensure a successful outcome. This is particularly true for patients with a history of sinus problems or infections, as well as those with insufficient bone in the upper jaw to support a dental implant.

In some clinical studies, maxillary sinusitis has been reported as a postoperative complication following dental implant procedures in the posterior maxilla. This is because the maxillary bone in this region is in close proximity to the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses. An implant dentist or oral surgeon must be cautious during the procedure to avoid damaging the Schneiderian membrane or causing other sinus issues.

What is the Purpose of Sinus Surgery?

Sinus surgery, including sinus lift procedure and endoscopic sinus surgery, is primarily performed to prepare a conducive environment for dental implant placement. It involves techniques such as sinus augmentation, which fortifies the jaw using a bone graft to rectify upper jaw bone loss that can cause dental implants to protrude into the maxillary sinus floor, potentially leading to sinus complications. The surgery is also used to manage maxillary sinusitis, affecting the paranasal sinuses, which may need to be addressed before an endosseous implant is placed in the posterior maxilla. Treatment plans devised by oral and maxillofacial surgeons encompass sinus floor elevation, sinus grafting, and Schneiderian membrane repair to secure successful implant insertion and primary stability. Clinical and retrospective studies by researchers like Raghoebar GM and Felisati G affirm the efficacy of these surgical procedures in resolving sinus issues and enhancing patient outcomes for dental implantation.

What are the Benefits of Sinus Surgery?

Sinus lift surgeries offer several benefits for patients undergoing dental implant treatment. These include:

  1. Improved sinus health
  2. Increased implant success rate
  3. Prevention of sinus complications
  4. Improved quality of life

What is Involved in a Sinus Lift Procedure?

To support dental implants, sinus lift surgeries are performed to increase the amount of bone in the upper jaw. The procedure involves making an incision in the gum’s soft tissue to expose the bone, followed by carefully lifting the sinus membrane.

Bone graft material is then placed between the sinus membrane and the existing bone. The gum tissue is sutured back in place, and the area is allowed to heal. The healing process typically takes several months, during which the grafted bone will fuse with the existing bone, providing a stable foundation for dental implants.

What Risks are Associated with Sinus Surgery?

There are potential risks associated with sinus surgery, as with any surgical procedure. These risks include:

  • Infection
  • Sinus membrane perforation
  • Graft failure
  • Allergic reaction
  • Bleeding and swelling
  • Postoperative complications

Another risk associated with sinus surgery is damage to the nasal cavity, which can occur during the surgical removal of blockages or during maxillary sinus augmentation procedures. In some cases, the maxillary sinus membrane, also known as the Schneiderian membrane, may be accidentally perforated during sinus floor elevation or sinus graft surgery.

To minimize the risk of potential complications, it is essential to choose a skilled dental surgeon experienced in these surgical techniques.

Are There Any Alternatives to Sinus Surgery for Dental Implants?

For patients who may not be suitable candidates for sinus surgery, there are alternative treatment options available, such as:

  1. Shorter dental implants: In some cases, shorter dental implants can be used to avoid the need for a sinus lift procedure. However, this option may not provide the same level of stability and long-term success as standard implants.
  2. Zygomatic implants: These are longer implants that anchor into the cheekbone (zygoma) instead of the upper jaw. Zygomatic implants can be an option for patients with severe bone loss in the upper jaw who cannot undergo a sinus lift procedure.
  3. Dentures or partial dentures: For patients who cannot undergo dental implant surgery, removable dentures or partial dentures may be an alternative option for tooth replacement.

In some clinical situations, an implant dentist may recommend alternative treatment options that do not require sinus surgery.

These may include the use of an ice pack to alleviate sinus pressure or non-surgical management of maxillary bone loss. However, it is essential to discuss your specific needs and concerns with your dental professional, including your medical history, to determine the most appropriate treatment option for your oral health.

How Long Does it Take to Recover from Sinus Surgery?

Depending on the individual patient and the extent of the procedure, the recovery time following sinus surgery can vary. Generally, patients can expect some discomfort, swelling, and bleeding in the first few days after surgery. Most patients can resume normal activities within a week, although strenuous activities should be avoided for at least two weeks after surgery.

The healing process for the grafted bone can take several months, during which time patients should follow their surgeon’s post-operative care instructions to ensure optimal healing and integration of the bone graft.

To manage swelling and discomfort after oral surgery, patients can use an ice pack on the affected area for the first 24-48 hours. This can help reduce inflammation and promote a more comfortable recovery. It is also important to follow your oral surgeon’s postoperative care instructions, including any prescribed medications and treatment protocols, to ensure a smooth healing process. 

Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Sinus Surgery and Dental Implants?

Insurance coverage for sinus surgery and dental implants varies greatly based on individual insurance plans, with some insurers covering these procedures if deemed medically necessary or partially or fully covering dental implants, while others may not provide coverage. It’s crucial to review your insurance policy and consult with your provider for specific coverage details, and seeking guidance from your dental professional regarding insurance and financing options may be beneficial. The importance of retrospective studies and clinical reports in determining the necessity and effectiveness of sinus surgery concerning dental implants should not be overlooked; discussing this evidence with your oral surgeon and insurance provider could influence your coverage for these procedures.

Sinus Surgery and Dental Implants FAQs

What happens if an implant goes into your sinus?

If a dental implant protrudes into the sinus cavity, it may cause discomfort, sinusitis, or other complications. In such cases, the patient needs to have an implant removal, and a sinus lift or bone graft procedure may be performed to ensure proper placement of the implant. It is essential to consult with your dental professional if you suspect your dental implant has gone into your sinus.

Can a dental bone graft cause sinus problems?

Sinus problems after dental bone grafting are relatively rare, as the procedure is designed to minimize the risk of complications. However, if the graft material becomes infected or the sinus membrane is damaged during the surgery, sinus issues may arise. Following your dentist’s post-operative instructions and taking prescribed antibiotics can help reduce the risk of sinus problems after a dental bone graft.

Can a dental implant protrude into the sinus?

If there is insufficient bone in the upper jaw to support the implant, dental implants can protrude into the sinus cavity. This can lead to pain, discomfort, and in rare cases, chronic sinusitis. To prevent this issue, a sinus lift or bone graft may be performed before implant insertion to strengthen the jaw and provide adequate support.

How do you retrieve a sinus implant?

If a dental implant has migrated into the sinus cavity, it may need to be removed by a dental professional. This typically involves a surgical procedure to access the implant, remove it, and repair any damage to the sinus membrane. Once the area has healed, a sinus lift or bone graft can be performed to prepare the site for a new implant.

What happens if a dentist punctures your sinus cavity?

If a dentist accidentally punctures your sinus cavity during a dental procedure, it may cause pain, discomfort, and an increased risk of infection. The sinus membrane may need to be repaired, and the procedure may be postponed to allow for healing. In some cases, a sinus lift or bone graft may be necessary to prevent future complications. 

Call us to talk to a dental specialist

If you’re worried about how the placement of a dental implant would impact your sinuses, reach out to Dr. John Paul Gallardo in Miami, Florida. Our team of dental specialists can guide you through the available options and determine the best approach for your needs. Our professionals can help restore your smile and also deliver a comfortable and long-lasting outcome. To schedule an appointment, call 305-447-1447 today.