The U.S. is arguably one of the most obsessed countries when it comes to wanting and having perfect teeth. In fact, according to a 2015 article at nymag.com, cosmetic dentistry is the largest non-surgical aesthetic industry after makeup! So it may actually surprise you that despite this perfect-smile craze, there are actually millions of Americans with missing teeth.
If you are one of these people, you may have looked into getting dental implants. However, some people may actually need to see a reconstructive surgeon before they can be candidates for implants. Take a look:
Without Reconstructive Surgery, Implants May Have a Higher Chance of Failing
When you think of contraindications for dental implants, you may think of bad habits--like smoking--or of health conditions--like diabetes. Patients with these issues need individualized treatment plans since their jaw bones can heal more slowly after surgery.
But even if you are in good health, developmental abnormalities or functional/aesthetic problems with your jaws can warrant a reconstructive procedure. For instance, some people may need to undergo a sinus lift. Your surgeon will recommend this procedure if your sinuses are too close to your jaw, meaning that you don't have enough bone height to support an implant. Once the sinus is lifted, your surgeon will insert a bone graft.
Take a look at some common questions you may have about the procedure:
Why do sinus abnormalities happen?
Sometimes there is no anatomical abnormality at all--many people just naturally have less bone in their upper jaw than their lower one. However, abnormalities can happen due to
Age. As you get older, your sinuses tend to get larger
Tooth loss that hasn't been taken care of. If you don't use any appliances, such as dentures, your surrounding teeth may have shifted. And once teeth are gone for a long time, jaw bone is resorbed back into the body.
Injury or trauma to your face
The removal of a cyst or cancer. To make sure that a tumor has been completely removed, your surgeon may have previously removed some jaw bone as well.
Does this reconstructive surgery have any risks?
All surgeries carry some amount of risk, but sinus lifts are typically very safe. The main issue is that when the surgeon lifts the sinus membrane, it can sometimes tear. However, the good news is that if this happens, the membrane will become more thick as it heals and can be operated on again in a few months time. Other possible risks include inflammation and nerve damage. But again, these are unlikely to occur if you are in good health and if you choose an experienced surgeon.
After the sinus lift, can you get my dental implants right away?
Unfortunately, you do have to wait many months for the sinus lift and bone graft to heal before you can go in for dental implants. While this can be somewhat annoying, keep in mind that if you didn't have this reconstructive procedure, there would be a greater chance for implant failure down the line.