Dental Implants for Senior Citizens: Why Age is Just a Number when it Comes to Dental Implants

It doesn't matter how old you are. Dental crowns and implants are a viable option for you. In fact, dental implants can make you look and feel much younger simply by giving you back your smile and the ability to chew comfortably and confidently. Whether you are 65 or 95, dental implants can make a huge difference to your well-being. Dentures, while preferable to having no teeth, can be painful and awkward—and sometimes embarrassing. However, dental implants resemble natural teeth in every way, from how they feel, how they look, and more importantly, how they help you to enjoy your food.

Of course, age does play a role. In edentulous patients, i.e. those missing one or more teeth, the jawbone shrinks over time. Dentures exacerbate this problem because of the constant pressure they exert on the gums. However, research shows that dental implant success rates are high among both older and younger patients. The major difference is that there are some factors that need to be considered before treatment can begin.

The Availability of Bone is a Factor

Bone availability is one of the primary factors to consider when evaluating the possibility of dental implants in patients no matter what their age. Edentulous patients that have had many teeth missing for several years will most likely have a substantial amount of bone loss. However, bone grafting is a possibility provided the health of the patient is stable. In addition, mini-dental implants and shorter dental implants can be used where the bone is minimal and bone grafting is not possible.

However, osteoporosis, which leads to brittle and weak bone, may rule out dental implants.

Patient Health

Patient health is extremely important. Older patients with severe periodontitis and poor oral hygiene may not be suitable candidates for dental implants. Overall health too is a factor as this dictates the period of healing needed after surgery. Some medications also weaken bone and so it is important that patients inform dentists of any medications they are taking during the initial consultation.

Smoking Affects Healing

In patients that have smoked for many years, healing times may be increased. In smokers, the blood flow to the mouth and gums is reduced, thus slowing down the healing process and increasing the chances of implant failure.

This doesn't rule out implants altogether, however. Many smokers have dental implants. It all depends on the individual and their health.

Never think that you are too old for dental implants. In 2012, Filomena Battista from the USA had 4 dental implants successfully placed—aged 100 years and 210 days! If you are looking to get your smile, chewing ability and confidence back by opting for dental implants, don't let your age hold you back from doing so.