Dr. Peter Doherty Profile Image

Last Reviewed 06 February 2024

Medically reviewed by Dr. Peter Doherty, Bachelor Dent. Sc. (Trinity College Dublin) 2003, MFDS (RCSI), PG Cert Implant Dentistry (Newcastle), Implant Dentist

Your dentist might recommend a sinus lift (a type of bone graft) if you have inadequate natural bone height to replace missing upper back teeth with dental implants. However, as with all small operations, there are precautions and a recovery period.

Our sinus lift aftercare guide will help you minimise discomfort and have a safe recovery.

What Happens During The Procedure?

Dental implants must fuse into your jawbone, but the ageing process often means people lose upper jaw bone height, making it hard to enable implant placement.

Your dentist will discuss options with you, but surgery might be the best way to add missing height.

On the day of your surgery, you'll have local anaesthesia to numb the area, and the dental surgeon will then place a bone graft material under the sinus membrane. If you are nervous, we can offer IV sedation to relax you.

After The Procedure

Once the procedure is finished your dentist will monitor you, go through post operative instructions, and allow you to go home.

We use non-dissolving sutures during the procedure, and we will then see you after two weeks for review. At the post operative appointment, we will remove the sutures.

Instructions Following Your Sinus Lift

Most sinus lifts are minor procedures in oral surgery, but there is a recovery period which is generally a maximum of two weeks.

You might notice some discomfort, pressure in the sinus or nasal cavity, and minor bleeding during this time. Under no circumstances should you do any of the following during your recovery period:

  • Sneeze with a closed mouth.
  • Blow your nose or hold your nose while coughing or sneezing.
  • Perform activities that require blowing actions, including inflating balloons or playing musical instruments.
  • Go scuba diving or partake in other activities that can increase sinus pressure.
  • Smoke - use nicotine patches instead.
  • Use a straw when drinking.

Managing Pain

Feeling some nasal or oral pressure after your sinus lift is common, but painkillers will relieve any discomfort. In most cases, a combination of paracetamol and ibuprofen is enough.

Bruising can also be quite common after a sinus lift. If it happens, it will be at it's maximum at one week and will fade after that. By two weeks all bruising has generally disappeared, or will be barely visible.

Reducing Swelling

Swelling typically lasts up to a week. After the surgery, the swelling worsens over three days, but ibuprofen should make you feel more comfortable.

You can also use an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the side of your face for relief and to help reduce the extent of the swelling.

20 minutes on and 20 minutes off is the recommended regimen.

Taking Antibiotics

Your dentist will prescribe medications on the day of your surgery to prevent against infection, and it's essential to complete all prescribed antibiotics. Chlorhexidine mouthwash can also help prevent infections.

Managing Bleeding

After the procedure, you will notice some minor bleeding, including slightly blood-tinged saliva, nosebleeds, nasal congestion, or blood in the back of the throat—all of these are completely normal after a sinus lift. A blood clot will form to protect the surgical site, and strenuous activities can cause heavy bleeding.

If you experience severe bleeding, apply a gauze or damp handkerchief to the wound edges while sitting upright with the head elevated and applying pressure to the surgical site.

Bleeding that continues to get worse requires medical attention, so please contact us immediately.

Oral Hygiene

You should still maintain oral hygiene by brushing your teeth regularly and gently rinse with mouthwash. When brushing your teeth, avoid the surgical site and specifically the sutures.

Antibacterial mouthwash will help with keeping the areas you cannot brush free from plaque.

Post-operative Lifestyle Alterations

Minor lifestyle changes will prevent complications and reduce discomfort as you heal from your procedure. Drink water after your surgery and avoid using a straw and stick to soft, cold foods for about 24 hours after the procedure.

Suitable foods include:

  • Ice cream
  • Yoghurt
  • Bananas
  • Cottage cheese
  • Scrambled eggs (when cooled down)

After 3-4 days, you can introduce other foods into your diet, but avoid things that require a lot of chewing. You should also avoid drinking alcohol, smoking and vaping for two weeks.

Most importantly, take your prescribed medication and remember to go easy. If you follow these instructions, you should enjoy a speedy - and minimally intrusive - recovery.

When Should I Seek Medical Attention?

If you experience any of the following side effects, please seek medical support immediately:

  • Persistent heavy bleeding that doesn't get better.
  • Pain and swelling that continues to get worse and lasts more than four days after the surgery.
  • Any allergic reaction symptoms include rashes, itching and an upset stomach.
  • A temperature that exceeds 38 degrees Celsius.
  • A lack of feeling (numbness) that lasts longer than 24 hours.

3Dental offers ongoing support to our patients, guiding them through every stage of the sinus lift. Please give us a call if you have any questions after your surgery. We're happy to help.