Sinus Lift: What You Should Know

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Dental implants, like teeth themselves, require a strong foundation to be effective. Tooth loss or periodontal (gum) disease causes the underlying bone to weaken or deteriorate, leaving insufficient bone to house an implant. In preparation for dental implants, sinus lift surgery, also known as sinus augmentation, restores this area with grafted or artificial bone.

Though effective for addressing stability issues, this restorative oral surgery is invasive and adds to the dental implant procedure timeline.

As you consider tooth replacement options, this article provides a quick look at how sinus lift surgery works, how much it costs, and what to expect for recovery. 

Oral surgeon examining images before sinus lift surgery

owngarden / Getty Images


Before the sinus lift procedure, your dentist, oral surgeon, or periodontist (gum specialist) must evaluate the area and fully assess the existing maxilla (upper jaw bone). Generally, imaging techniques such as dental X-rays or cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans (3D X-rays that help assess the amount of bone present) are sufficient to give specialists a sense of the upper maxilla's health status.

If bone will be used for the graft instead of an artificial composite, it must be taken from another body part (typically another part of the mouth or a limb). In some cases, animal bone (such as cow bone) may be used, or bone may be donated from a deceased person.

Before the procedure, you'll be numbed with a local anesthetic or given nerve blocks to keep you comfortable.     


There are two primary types of sinus lift surgery, both of which thicken the bone matter beneath the sinus (the cavity that contains your nasal passages and sits on top of your mouth).

The two most common approaches are:

  • Lateral window technique: The most common approach is also known as a direct sinus lift. The oral surgeon makes a small incision through the tissue and then through the bone that separates the sinus and the oral cavity (mouth). A small portion of bone matter is gently pushed into the sinus (the “lift”), and the bone graft material is placed below. Over time, the bone material integrates, and the gums heal.
  • Osteotome technique: This technique relies on creating a flap of gum tissue on the roof of the mouth to access the necessary bone. Instead of pushing up the entire structure, the dentist uses special tools to drill into the bone, stopping about 2 millimeters from the sinus floor. This hole is gradually widened until it can accept grafted bone materials to strengthen the area.    

Following these procedures, the oral surgeon will use sutures or stitches to close up the area.  


Because sinus lift surgery is relatively invasive, there can be a significant recovery period. You can expect discomfort, swelling, and bleeding from the nose and mouth, especially for the first two to three days, but then also for up to a week afterward. Stitches are removed at a follow-up appointment, seven to 10 days after the procedure.

Special care for proper recovery includes:

  • 24 hours post-surgery: No spitting or rinsing because it can aggravate healing and lead to bleeding. Be careful while eating; consider icing and using over-the-counter (OTC) medications to manage the pain.
  • 28–72 hours post-surgery: In this earlier recovery period, avoid brushing around the operated site. After the first 24-hour period, you’ll be advised to gargle with salt water about five times daily, especially after meals. Contact your healthcare provider if you experience increased pain, swelling, or bleeding after three days.
  • 7–10 days post-surgery: You’ll receive antibiotics to prevent infection; keep up with your medications. While the sutures or stitches are in, don’t drink from a straw because doing so can dislodge necessary blood clots in the affected area. Avoid smoking or sneezing during this period because these can hinder healing and recovery.  
  • 3–4 weeks post-surgery: Avoid playing brass, wind, or reed instruments that require blowing. Due to pressure changes, air travel and scuba diving are not recommended, even after sutures or stitches are out. Talk to your oral surgeon before making any travel or activity plans.

Bone Ossification

Before you can get dental implantation, the surgical site in the area needs to fully recover, and bone strength needs to be restored by a process called ossification. The grafted jaw bone or synthetic needs to fully integrate into the existing structure, which can take anywhere from four to nine months. Many factors influence ossification; sometimes, people must wait 12 months or more between sinus lift and implantation procedures.


As with any oral surgery or dental procedure, the cost of sinus lift surgery depends significantly on the individual and their dental insurance plan. More complicated cases may require more extensive work. Dental surgeons charge anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 per side for sinus lift surgery.


Sinus lift surgery is a dental procedure used when the existing rear upper jaw (maxilla) bone is insufficient for dental implants. To reinforce this area, oral surgeons graft harvested or synthetic bone into a space created by lifting the bone matter into the sinus cavity above the mouth. Though special care must be taken during recovery after this oral surgery, the procedure can successfully prepare the bone to accept dental implants in the future.     

A Word From Verywell

There are numerous benefits to taking care of missing teeth. Tooth replacement procedures such as dental implants not only help with physical appearance but also protect the health of gums and surrounding teeth. For many, sinus lift surgery is necessary to achieve a fuller and brighter smile. If you’re thinking about oral surgery or other means of dental correction, talk to your dentist about your options.  


Frequently Asked Questions

  • How painful is a sinus lift?

    Aside from the pinch of a local anesthetic or the delivery of a nerve-blocking drug to the mouth and jaw, you shouldn’t feel pain during the sinus lift procedure. You can, however, expect to feel pain, tenderness, swelling, and discomfort for about a week following the procedure. You may receive medications to help manage the pain.

  • How long is the healing process after a sinus lift?

    As with other oral surgeries, a significant recovery period follows a sinus lift as tissues and bone structures heal. Generally, the stitches and sutures stay in for seven to 10 days, with the tissue healing process taking up to a month. However, it takes at least four months and up to nine or more for the grafted bone to integrate with the existing jaw.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Periodontology. Sinus augmentation.

  2. Kim J, Jang H. A review of complications of maxillary sinus augmentation and available treatment methodsJ Korean Assoc Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2019;45(4):220-224. doi:10.5125/jkaoms.2019.45.4.220

  3. Bathla SC, Fry RR, Majumdar K. Maxillary sinus augmentation. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2018;22(6):468-473. doi:10.4103/jisp.jisp_236_18

  4. Bortoluzzi MC, Manfro R, Fabris V, et al. Comparative study of immediately inserted dental implants in sinus lift: 24 months of follow-upAnn Maxillofac Surg. 2014;4(1):30-33. doi:10.4103/2231-0746.133071

  5. Napitu A, Tariq E. Sinus lift for dental implants: cost, risks, and recovery.

Additional Reading

By Mark Gurarie
Mark Gurarie is a freelance writer, editor, and adjunct lecturer of writing composition at George Washington University.