When people have chosen to have dental implants to restore missing teeth in the upper jaws at the back of the mouth, it is usually necessary to have a three dimensional cone beam CT scan of the region to assess how much remaining bone is present following the careful removal of any unrestorable teeth. If there is insufficient bone height to accept a dental implant the lateral window sinus augmentation technique is the widely accepted best method of care to increase the amount of vertical bone present.
A cut is made in the gum on the affected side and a window is made in the bone allowing access to the thin skin lining the air sinus in the upper jaw. This lining is very carefully peeled off the bone on the inside of the sinus before bone grafting material is placed inside the bony boundaries of the sinus but on the outside of the internal skin lining. A membrane is placed over the window to allow healing and the gum is stitched back over the top using dissolving sutures. Sometimes implants can be placed at the same time. If this is not possible healing relates to the rate of new bone growth in this region and a gap of 9-12 months is required before the next stage of treatment.