Patients who have missing teeth may want to consider getting a dental implant. During the procedure, an oral surgeon replaces the roots of the natural teeth with metal posts that are screwed directly into the jawbone. The process is lengthy and requires several different procedures before all is said and done. One of the steps…
Am I Too Old for Dental Implants?
Many patients who are missing one or more teeth wonder if dental implants are a viable tooth replacement option for their particular situations. For many of those patients, older age is a top concern. Does a person’s age affect candidacy for implants? The short answer is no. While age can be a factor, it is not the only one that affects a person’s eligibility for the procedure.
Age and dental implants
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, tooth loss becomes more common as a person ages. In fact, the average senior aged 65 or older has just 18 teeth remaining, while nearly one third of persons in the same age group have no teeth left. This data shows that the group most in need of tooth replacement is the elderly. Fortunately, tooth replacement options, including dental implants, were designed with this target demographic in mind.
Dental implants are effective for individuals of all ages, from young 20-somethings to 80-year-old seniors. Elderly individuals, just like younger patients, are capable of healing quickly. Moreover, there is no evidence that suggests that elderly patients are at an increased risk for complications any more than younger patients are. This is the case even in patients who live with osteoporosis.
Furthermore, elderly individuals enjoy the same benefits of dental implants as younger patients. The top benefits of implants include overall improved quality of life, increased comfort, a more active lifestyle, a renewed ability to eat healthy and nutritious foods, and zero need for excess maintenance. The greatest benefit of implants, however, is that the prosthetics prevent further deterioration of the jawbone or changes to the shape of the face, both of which are common issues associated with tooth loss and dentures.
Factors that affect implant candidacy
Age may not be a factor in determining a patient’s ability to receive implants, but several others are. The top factors that are likely to impact eligibility include the following:
- The existence of certain chronic medical conditions, such as uncontrolled diabetes, uncontrolled gum disease, and cancer
- The use of certain medications, such as immunosuppressants or steroids
- Certain lifestyle habits, such as excessive alcohol consumption and smoking
- Certain bad habits, such as teeth grinding and clenching
Generally speaking, the success rate of dental implants boils down to a person’s overall health and oral health. In addition to being in healthy physical condition, the ideal candidate also has healthy gums and strong bone structure. This person should also demonstrate a commitment to daily oral health, as the longest-lasting implants are those patients take care of well.. A healthy hygiene routine does not have to be anything over the top but rather consist of what a person should have been doing from an early age. That includes brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist twice yearly.
Many people assume that age is a barrier to dental implants, but that is simply not the case. While several age-related factors, such as chronic disease and the use of medications, may affect a person’s candidacy, elderly persons should always consult with a qualified dentist before nixing the idea of implants altogether.
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