Elderly woman looking at teeth in dental mirror

Dental Implants for the Elderly: Are They a Viable Option?

Smile On Dental Salon and Sleep Apnea Center Blog, Dental Implants

Many elderly individuals suffer from tooth loss and could benefit from dental implants. Around 13% of adults aged 65 or older have lost all their teeth, with that number rising to 26% in those 75 and older. Dental implants can help restore eating and speaking function and improve seniors’ quality of life.

Dental Implants a Tooth Replacement Solution

Dental implants are a modern solution for complete tooth replacement. Traditional tooth replacement solutions like dentures can often slip or cause discomfort as your mouth changes with age. Dental implants are a more stable and permanent option, helping to stimulate the jawbone to preserve your facial structure and oral health.

The dental implant process involves surgically inserting a small titanium post into the jawbone to serve as the root for a false tooth. The implant surgery is followed by a healing period to allow the metal post to fuse with the jawbone. Then, your dentist attaches a connector and a custom-made crown to complete the procedure.

Your dentist can also replace an entire arch of missing teeth by strategically placing 4-8 implants. The most common approach is the All-on-4 technique, where four implants are used to support an entire arch of replacement teeth.

This method is popular due to its efficiency and the reduced need for bone grafting. However, some cases may require more implants (like 5, 6, or more) to provide additional support and stability, especially if the bone density is a concern or the load on the teeth will be higher.

Age-Related Dental Concerns

As we age, we often face various dental issues that can impact our overall oral health. Common concerns among the elderly include:

  • Untreated tooth decay, which affects up to 96% of adults over 65
  • Gum disease affects 2 in 3 American seniors
  • Complete tooth loss impacts 26% of adults over 75
  • Oral cancer is typically diagnosed at age 62 on average

Aging also changes your body, making it harder to combat oral health problems. Cells renew slower, tissues become less elastic, bones weaken, and the immune system may not respond as effectively, leading to a heightened risk of oral health issues.

Suitability of Dental Implants for the Elderly

Dental implants have a high success rate of 97% over 10 years. However, implant success is often slightly lower in older adults and is influenced by bone density and overall health.

Reduced bone density may require a bone graft when the jawbone is not strong enough to hold an implant. A bone graft is where living bone tissue is transplanted into the affected area. The cells then multiply to increase your jawbone’s density and strength.

Conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, rheumatic diseases, and nutritional deficiencies also increase the risks associated with dental implant surgery. These health issues, along with their required medications, can impact surgery outcomes, wound healing, and the long-term success of the implants.

This means a thorough evaluation of the patient’s health is essential to determine suitability for implant treatment.

Risks and Considerations

Despite the high dental implant success rate, you need to be aware of potential risks and complications associated with the procedure, which can occur at any age. These may include damage to surrounding natural teeth during implant placement, tissue injury, or jawbone injury. Patients might experience limited jaw function or even implant failure due to infection or delayed healing, which is more likely in smokers.

You also risk developing peri-implantitis. The condition occurs due to a bacterial infection. Several factors can affect this, such as inadequate oral hygiene, the design and positioning of the implant, the patient’s overall health, smoking habits, and a history of gum disease.

Symptoms of peri-implantitis may include redness, swelling, pain, bleeding on probing around the implant, and sometimes pus discharge. As the condition progresses, it can lead to the loosening or even loss of the implant.

Regain Your Smile With Dental Implants

Restore your smile with the team at Smile On Dental Salon & Sleep Apnea Center.
No matter your age or tooth loss status, our dedicated professionals are here to assist you. Contact our Deerfield office at (224) 282-8939 or our Lakeview office at (773) 525-5545 to learn how we can help you regain your beautiful, confident smile.