Anyone can lose a tooth at any age. However, the loss of all or most teeth seems to be a problem that affects the elderly more than any other age group. Thirty percent of adults aged 65 to 74 in the United States have lost all their remaining natural teeth. Tooth decay, trauma, or osteoporosis may all be factors. Whatever the cause, however, dental implants for seniors are a possible solution.
In the past, tooth replacement options were essentially limited to dentures or bridges. While still available methods of tooth restoration, each has distinct disadvantages. Fortunately, however, the past 30 years have seen advancements in the area of tooth restoration, and dental implants are now an option to replace one or more missing teeth.
How Do You Know if You Are a Candidate for Dental Implants?
Some seniors may think that they are too old for dental implants, but that is not true. While people younger than 18 should not have implants, there is no upper age limit. Others may not think that they are candidates because of osteoporosis reducing jawbone density. If you have experienced bone loss in your jaw, you may still be a candidate for dental implants. You may require a subperiosteal implant as an alternative to an endosteal implant, or you may require a bone grafting procedure first, but osteoporosis does not automatically disqualify you.
Nevertheless, there are contraindications for dental implants, such as the following:
- Immune disorders
- Drug abuse
- Blood clotting disorders
- Uncontrolled diabetes
If any of these conditions are present, you may not be able to proceed with surgery. You should also not have implants if you have gum disease or untreated tooth decay.
What Are the Advantages of Implants?
When you have teeth missing, you may have to change the way you eat or eliminate certain foods from your diet. Not only can this negatively impact your quality of life, but it can also lead to poor nutrition. Replacing the missing teeth means that you can eat the foods you like and maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet.
In addition to causing difficulty with eating, missing teeth can also lead to speech problems, making it more difficult to communicate with others. Dental implants can help you retain your ability to speak clearly and be understood.
Missing teeth can affect the way you feel about yourself, taking a toll on your self-esteem. Dental implants are virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth, meaning that not only do they restore your function, but they also help to restore your confidence in yourself.
Why May Implants Be Preferable to Dentures or Bridges?
Dentures and bridges involve less upfront cost than implants but may be prone to breakage over time and need to be replaced. Implants can last for decades and so may represent a better long-term investment.
Caring for dentures and bridges involves extra steps, such as inserting flossers under bridges or taking out dentures to soak them. Dental implants are cared for by brushing and flossing, just like natural teeth.
Dentures and bridges can be uncomfortable due to the way that they can rub on the gums. However, once you heal from surgery, the implants cause no further pain.
The presence of teeth in the jaw helps to stimulate bone development. When teeth are missing, the jawbone can deteriorate, which can change the shape of the face. Endosteal dental implants go directly into the jawbone and bond with it via a process called osseointegration. The implant functions as the roots of a tooth to stimulate bone production and preserve the jaw.
Learn More About Dental Implants for Seniors
At Summit OMS, we offer seniors several dental implant options. We have offices in Rochester Hills, Grosse Pointe, Clinton Township, Warren, Romeo and Washington, Michigan. Contact us for an appointment to discuss whether you are a candidate for surgical implantation.