What is a Sinus Lift?

A sinus lift is a surgery which essentially adds to the existing bone structure in around the area of the upper jaw between your molars and premolars. It is sometimes referred to as a sinus augmentation. The new bone structure is added between the jaw and the maxillary sinuses, which can be on either side of your nose. To make room for this new bone, the sinus membrane will be moved upward, or "lifted".

Why do I need a Sinus Lift?

A sinus lift is done when there is not enough bone height in the upper jaw, or the sinuses are too close to the jaw, for dental implants to be placed. There are many reasons for people to need this type of treatment:

  • People who have lost teeth in their upper jaw — Especially the back teeth, or molars — do not have enough remaining bone for implants to be placed in the existing jaw. Because of the anatomy of the skull, the back of the upper jaw has less bone than the lower jaw.
  • Bone may have been lost because of periodontal (gum) disease.
  • Tooth loss may have caused there to be a loss of bone as well. Once teeth are no longer present, bone begins to be resorbed. If teeth have been missing for a long period of time, there may be not enough bone left for implants to be an option for treatment.
  • Tooth loss may have led to a loss of bone as well. Once teeth are gone, bone begins to be resorbed (absorbed back into the body). If teeth have been missing for a long time, there often is not enough bone left to place implants.
  • The maxillary sinus could be too close to the upper jaw for implants an option for treatment. The shape and the size of this sinus can vary from person to person. The sinus also can get larger as you age.

Sinus lifts have become common during the last 15 years as more people get dental implants to replace missing teeth.


The bone used to complete this procedure may come from your own body (autogenous bone), from a cadaver (allogeneic bone) or from cow bone (xenograft).

If your own bone can be used in this procedure, it will can be from other areas such as your mouth or body. In most cases the bone for this procedure will be taken from your hip or your tibia.

We will need X-rays taken before your sinus lift so our dentist can study the anatomy of your jaw and sinus. You also may need a special type of computed tomography (CT) scan. This scan will allow our dentist to accurately measure the height and width of your existing bone and to evaluate the health of your sinus.

If you have seasonal allergies, you should schedule the procedure when they are not active.


Our surgeon will cut the gum tissue where your back teeth used to be. The tissue is raised, exposing the bone. A small, oval window is opened in the bone. The membrane lining the sinus on the other side of the window that separates your sinus from your jaw. This membrane will be gently positioned up and away from your jaw.

Granules of bone-graft material are then packed into the space where the sinus was. The amount of bone that will be needed for the procedure will vary, but usually several millimeters of bone is added above the jaw to complete this procedure successfully.

Once the new bone is in place, the area is closed with stitches. Your implants will be placed between four to nine months later. This allows time for the grafted material to blend with your bone.