It is a common misconception that senior citizens cannot receive dental implants. Actually, there is no age limit to dental implants, only health requirements. While there are some health issues that are more common in the elderly that could inhibit a successful implant, most of these same health issues could occur in much younger patients as well. The only true way to know if your body will accept them is to see a dentist or orthopedic surgeon with extensive implant experience.
For senior citizens who have used dentures or other tooth replacements in the past, dental implants are a welcome, permanent fix for missing teeth. While dentures require glues to stay put temporarily, and can make eating and talking uncomfortable, dental implants look and feel like natural teeth. A dentist or orthopedic surgeon will even work with the patient to make sure the tooth color matches up perfectly to the rest of their teeth.
No matter what age the patient is, the jawbone must have sufficient height, width and mass in order for the implant abutments to be properly anchored. With age, it is not uncommon to lose some bone mass, and this too can lower the chances of an elderly person qualifying for implants. However, if the patient is in good health otherwise, they may be able to receive bone graft work, giving them the proper mass for an implant.
One factor that could make it less likely for a senior to qualify for dental implants is there medical history. Dental professionals use a patient’s medical history to help determine the likelihood of the procedures success, as well as the chances of an infection. Some of the medical conditions that could be considered problematic are more common for the elderly, such as recent heart attacks, or strokes.
One of the most vital factors of a successful dental implant procedure is the healing process. Osseointegration is the process of joining implants directly with bone, which in dental implant surgery would be the titanium implants and the jawbone. In order for osseointegration to succeed, the surgical site must heal quickly and correctly. Unless an elderly person has trouble healing, such as a medical condition like severe diabetes, they should have no problem with this part of the procedure.
In order to make the dental implant procedure fully successful, the new implants need to be taken proper care of both immediately after the surgery and daily from then on. Several check-ups also need to be made following the procedure to make sure the healing process is coming along well. Due to this, dental implants are best suited for elderly persons still living independently who are willing and able to keep up their dental hygiene.