Think You’re Too Old for Dental Implants? Think Again
One question frequently asked by patients is whether they are too old for dental implants. Often people who are in their 70s or 80s, or who are even quite a bit younger are worried this treatment might not be appropriate. In fact, age isn’t a problem, and there have been cases of people receiving dental implants well into their 80s or even in their 90s because you’re never too old to get great teeth! What’s far more important and what will be of much greater interest to your dentist, is your medical history, and of course, they will need to examine your jaws and any remaining natural teeth.
Why Your Medical History Is Important?
When you first visit your implant dentist to inquire about treatment, they will ask about your medical history. It is important to let your dentist know about any medical conditions and all medications prescribed to you because these could affect your implant treatment. Some conditions, and particularly those that affect your immune system, could negatively affect implant treatment because they will slow down healing and diabetes is a good example.
However, it is always worth enquiring because your suitability will depend on your circumstances. During this visit, your dentist will want to examine your mouth because it’s important to ensure you do not have any untreated dental diseases which again could affect the success of your implant treatment. Your dentist will want to take every precaution to ensure your dental implants are successful and will last a very long time or even for life.
Why Consider Dental Implants When You’re Older?
As you get older, then your dental health becomes even more critical, but it’s the very time when tooth loss is more common. People who are older will often have lost one or more teeth, due to trauma or disease. Any tooth loss dramatically affects your remaining teeth, and it’s the reason why dentists always urge patients to think about suitable tooth replacements soon after tooth loss, or even before teeth are extracted. Even losing just a single tooth will allow adjacent teeth to drift out of place, so you’ll notice your teeth don’t fit together properly, and it’s harder to bite into food or to chew it thoroughly.
It’s also worth mentioning the social impact of losing teeth, as like it or not we live in a society that often judges people by their appearance. When you lose teeth, it can make you afraid or embarrassed to smile or talk with others, leading to a sense of social isolation as you avoid meeting or talking with new people, or even seeing friends and family. Yet this is the point when you should be making the most of every moment, hopefully enjoying a well-earned retirement where you can spend time with the people you love, or can visit far-flung destinations on your bucket list, trying new foods and experiences.
It’s also the time when you want to protect your general health and being able to eat properly is an integral part of that factor. When you are adequately nourished, your body is more able to fight infection and disease, keeping you healthy and vital for longer.
What Are Dental Implants?
In case you’re not quite sure, dental implants are a way of artificially replacing real tooth roots using a small titanium post or cylinder that is surgically inserted into your jawbone. Once the post has been positioned in your jawbone then, over time, it gradually begins to integrate with the surrounding bone. After several months have passed, new bone will have grown on and around your implant post, securing it firmly in your jawbone. A properly integrated implant post can support a replacement tooth, or when multiple teeth are missing, implants can be used to hold bridges or even to support dentures.
Implant Solutions to Help You Restore Your Smile
The great thing about dental implant treatment is its versatility, as there are numerous different procedures so there’s bound to be something that will be right for you. If you are missing just one or two teeth, then single dental implants are an excellent solution, and once they are in place, then you’ll find it easy to forget you ever lost any teeth because they will look and feel incredibly natural.
If you are missing multiple teeth in the same location of your mouth, then another option is to have an implant-supported bridge. It isn’t necessary to replace every single tooth with an implant post, as instead, your implant dentist can advise you on how many implants are needed to support a bridge comfortably. The number required can vary because it is possible to support a bridge replacing a complete arch of teeth.
Another option is to choose an implant-supported denture. Unlike implant crowns and bridges, the denture will be removable but will provide you with far greater stability than a conventional denture that rests on the gums. It’s also a very cost-effective solution as relatively few dental implants are needed to support a complete denture.
Why Choose an Implant-Supported Denture?
An implant-supported denture can be appealing to anyone who lost teeth quite some time ago and who currently has a full denture but finds it very uncomfortable and unstable. Often problems for denture wearers are caused by changes in the shape of their jawbone which gradually reabsorbs once natural teeth are removed. When this happens, the bony arch that used to support the teeth becomes narrower and flatter, so it’s harder to retain a denture comfortably.
If you want to have conventional dental implant treatment, perhaps using a dental bridge to replace a complete arch of teeth, you may well need a bone graft to help restore lost bone and to make sure there is sufficient bone to support the dental implants. Sometimes a bone graft can be placed at the same time as implants but otherwise, it is a stand-alone procedure, and the bone must be given time to heal and integrate with your natural jawbone. A bone graft can increase the cost and length of treatment and, for some people, this will be a step too far. In contrast, an implant supported denture utilizes the bone right at the front of the mouth where it is naturally stronger and thicker, often eliminating the need for bone grafting.