Tooth loss is a common condition, affecting millions of adult patients. Many of these patients are over the age of 65. The American Dental Association recommends dental implants as the best option for tooth replacement.
However, this is an extensive process that requires invasive surgery and it can be expensive. Many seniors wonder if they can truly afford it. The good news is, thanks to advancements in modern dentistry, this is a viable option for seniors.
Benefits of Dental Implants for Senior Patients?
For many years, traditional dentures have been used by senior patients to replace missing teeth. However, advances in restorative dentistry has led to the introduction of more options for replacing missing teeth. One of these is dental implants.
Dental implants look, feel, and function more like natural teeth because they are inserted into the jawbone. As the jawbone heals around and fuses with the implant post, it becomes a permanent part of your jawbone- creating a more stable base for artificial teeth.
Dental implants allow seniors to live a fairly normal life because they don’t have to worry about their teeth falling out when they talk or eat. Plus, since dental implants are more stable than other options, they don’t have to change their diet in any way.
What are the requirements for senior patients seeking permanent implants?
There are a few criteria that must be met in order to qualify for permanent dental implants, including:
- Patients must have adequate jawbone density. Since the implants are inserted into the jawbone, the jawbone must be healthy enough to support them. If there has been some jawbone deterioration due to missing teeth, patients must be healthy enough to undergo jawbone grafting surgery.
- Patients must be healthy. If a patient has uncontrolled diabetes, heart disease, or other conditions impacting their health, they may not qualify for permanent dental implants. Additionally, since the surgery is an invasive one, they need to have a high immunity to reduce their risk of infection.
In addition to the above, it is important that seniors work with a qualified dental professional who is familiar with dental implants- and working with elderly patients.
Dental Implants for Seniors: What Should You Expect?
Dental implants are the ideal tooth replacement solution. However, there are several steps involved in this procedure, so patients must be willing to commit to it.
The very first step to any dental procedure is the consultation appointment. During this visit, the dentist will perform a thorough examination including imaging. In addition, they will go over current oral and overall health, as well as oral/overall health history, oral hygiene habits, and lifestyle habits. This information will be used to determine eligibility for dental implants.
Placing Dental Implants
In order to place the implants, the dentist will need to cut an incision in the gum and drill a hole in the jawbone. The implant post will be placed in the hole and the incision will be stitched closed. If the patient is getting a full-mouth restoration, a temporary prosthesis may be placed at this time. If the patient is only getting a single implant, they will be sent home to heal.
Over the next few weeks and months, the jawbone will heal around and fuse with the implant post. This process is known as osseointegration. Once this process is complete, the patient will return for the placement of the crown or their permanent prosthesis.
During this time, patients should stick with soft foods that are easy to chew and will not cause the implant to shift.
Traditional Dentures versus Dental Implants for Seniors
Traditional dentures have been used for many years to replace missing teeth. While there have been some improvements over the years with dentures, there are still many disadvantages. Still, most seniors prefer this option because they are more familiar with it than with dental implants.
Problems with traditional dentures include slipping/sliding around in the mouth, possibly falling out when eating or speaking, pressure and friction sores on the gums due to the shifting of the denture, and more.
Dental implants, on the other hand, are inserted into the jawbone and become a permanent fixture in the mouth through osseointegration. They look, feel, and function more like natural teeth, creating a better quality of life and improved confidence.
If you are a senior considering tooth replacement options, take a closer look at dental implants. You might be pleasantly surprised at how affordable and comfortable they truly are.