I am proud to say that I have all my own teeth at the age of 65. While that may not sound unusual to some people, everyone in my family who is my age or older wears dentures. I always tell people that that flossing is the key to good dental health. I have arthritis in my hands, but I don't let it keep me from flossing every day. My trick is to use those little "flossers" you can buy at the drug store. They have plastic handles floss stretched out on top of the handle. These make flossing easier on days when my arthritis is acting up. I started this blog to let other people know that they can keep their teeth healthy into old age when they take care of them. If you have hand pain, find ways to make flossing easier, like I did.
Dental implants from sites like http://www.jacksonvilleperiodontist.com can be a fantastic way to replace missing teeth. Unfortunately, in a small percentage of the population, the same issues that lead to loss of the back molars result in degradation of the jaw bone itself. This makes it difficult to place implants, as there is little to attach them to within the mouth. When this is the case, a sinus lift may be suggested. If you've recently been informed that you require this surgery, this guide will help you to better understand what you need to know about the procedure and the recovery process.
A Sinus Lift Focuses on the Upper Jaw Only
In a sinus lift procedure, only back of the upper jaw is modified. A bone graft is inserted to the area between your maxillary sinuses and where your back molars would have been located before they were lost. It replaces bone that has eroded or been re-absorbed by the body due to a variety of conditions.
The name "sinus lift" is actually very fitting for the procedure. In order to embed the bone graft, the space below the maxillary sinuses must be increased; this is done by removing the membrane surrounding them. Once it is removed, the graft is added and the membrane is re-sealed over it.
Because this procedure can be very invasive, it is usually considered a final attempt when other methods have failed.
People Experience Bone Loss for a Variety of Reasons
While extensive tooth loss is the most common reason to require this surgery, it isn't the exclusive cause. Bone loss can occur as a side effect to certain genetic conditions, illnesses, or even injuries.
Direct trauma is also a very common cause of both bone loss and density loss.
The jaw bone itself must be stimulated through chewing in order to ensure that it stays healthy and robust. In a normal mouth, pressure on the teeth from daily use provides this stimulation. This doesn't occur in people recovering from a broken jaw, nor does it occur in those who have been missing teeth for several years.
Recovery Requires Patience and Time
Sinus lift surgery isn't a quick fix for people when dental implants are contraindicated due to bone loss. Before moving forward, you should understand that this surgery requires an intermediate healing period of at least three to six months.
During the recovery process, you'll initially need to follow a soft or liquid diet for several days. Getting the right nutrition during this crucial period is important, even though you may not be able to chew. Gather plenty of nutritious recipes before you have your surgery, and focus on what's easy to prepare.
Commercially available meal replacement shakes can also be very helpful during this time.
As you recover and time passes, your periodontist will indicate when you can safely progress to soft foods, partial solids, and eventually, a normal diet.
Pain is Common, But Easily Controlled
You may experience swelling or pain after your surgery. While this is common, fear should not prevent you from moving forward. Your surgeon will help you to mitigate this through the use of medication and/or non-pharmaceutical interventions.
The most common areas to experience pain after sinus lift surgery is around the jaw bone and in the upper sinuses. Headaches are also fairly common, and are caused by swelling around the sinuses themselves. This can feel very similar to a "sinus headache."
Important: In some patients, nasal discharge or stuffiness and headache may be mistaken for a head cold, when it's really caused by the swelling itself. Don't take cold medications without first speaking to your periodontist about your symptoms.
Using a cold compress against the cheek can help, as can taking NSAID medications.
If your pain is severe, your periodontist may recommend prescription painkillers for a short time. Most patients experience a resolution of pain after just a few weeks, and painkillers are no longer necessary.
While going forward with sinus lift surgery can seem daunting, it can go a long way to ensuring that your dental implants last for decades instead of just a few years. If your periodontist has recommended it, it's because he or she has judged that the benefits of having surgery outweigh the risks. For questions about your pending surgery, or for questions about dental implants, contact a periodontist directly.