Q: Years ago, I lost my upper molars. I didn’t have any grafting done and just let things heal. I went without teeth for about a year and then decided I wanted implants. I went to my dentist and he took x-rays. He said I had very large sinuses and in adults, sinuses continue to grow in size in some degree throughout life. He had old x-rays showing when I had my molar teeth (he didn’t pull my molars) and said I had very large sinuses even then. He said that even a bone graft at the time the teeth were pulled would have only ensured the bone was wide enough for good sized implants but I still would need bone in the sinus for the proper length of implants. He told me I should have bone grafted first in my sinuses, wait about nine months, then have dental implants put in. He gave me a price and I left to think about it. I went online and read reports where people were getting bone and implants put in the sinus at the same time, so, I went back and said that’s what I want. He said I wasn’t a good candidate for that because the bone covering my sinuses wasn’t thick enough to hold the dental implants and the graft had no support strength when it was just put in. I’m an impatient guy so I went to an implantologist who said he would do the implants and grafts at the same time. I went back to my dentist with the information but he said it was too risky. So, I went with the other guy and he did the job. Right from the start I knew something was wrong. Long story short, the implants fell out and I had sinus problems for over a year. That’s over fifteen years ago and I still don’t have back teeth. My front teeth seem good, even the ones just behind my eye teeth. Have things improved? Dare I try again?
A: Patience is a virtue and a really important commodity when it comes to surgery. For those of us that are impatient and don’t like interruption in our schedule it’s very important to let good counsel prevail. When surgical failures occur, the variables in the failure include the surgeon, the patient and unknown or unrevealed factors (undiagnosed diseases, habits, life style, personality style, etc.).
If your sinuses were treated and are normal today it is likely that bone grafting will work for you. Imaging (3D x-rays) is more readily available and better today. With a good health history, consultation with your specialist and careful planning you may be able to have dental implants placed. A healthy individual’s age is not a factor. Be patient – it’s worth it.