The maxillary sinus can normally be seen above the level of the premolar and molar teeth in the upper jaw. This dental x-ray film shows how, in the absence of the second premolar and first molar, the sinus became pneumatized and expanded towards the crest of the alveolar process (location at which the bone meets the gum tissue).
The pyramid shaped maxillary sinus (or antrum of Highmore) is the largest of the paranasal sinuses, and drains into the middle meatus of the nose. It is present at birth as rudimentary air cells, and develops throughout childhood.
Found in the body of the maxilla, this sinus has three recesses: an alveolar recess pointed inferiorly, bounded by the alveolar process of the maxilla; a zygomatic recess pointed laterally, bounded by the zygomatic bone; and an infraorbital recess pointed superiorly, bounded by the inferior orbital surface of the maxilla. The medial wall is composed primarily of cartilage. The ostia for drainage are located high on the medial wall and open into the semilunar hiatus of the lateral nasal cavity; because of the position of the ostia, gravity cannot drain the maxillary sinus contents when the head is erect. The sinus is lined with mucoperiosteum, with cilia that beat toward the ostia. This membrane is also referred to as the "Schneiderian Membrane", which is histologically a bilaminar membrane with ciliated columnar epithelial cells on the internal (or cavernous) side and periosteum on the osseous side. The size of the sinuses varies in different skulls, and even on the two sides of the same skull.