One question comes up again and again in the day-to-day running of our clinic: “Am I too old for implants?”
Misconceptions and dangerous half-knowledge mean that older patients and their relatives can feel particularly anxious and uncertain when it comes to the subject of implants. Many are anxious that implants will not heal or that the dental prosthesis will not hold properly on account of the patient’s age.
In fact, the opposite is true: it’s precisely in old age that implants can result in drastic improvements to quality of life – perhaps when a patient has worn a full prosthesis for several years, or when the jaw has remained toothless for some time. In both cases, the jawbone has suffered from less-than-optimal load distribution. The body takes this as a sign that the bone is no longer needed as it was before, and it starts to become worn down. As a consequence, the full prosthesis begins to slip and no longer sits properly due to insufficient hold.
With implants, the dental prosthesis sits snugly in the jaw and the chewing pressure is distributed evenly over the bone – just as it would be with a natural tooth root. This means that the prosthesis does not slip or wobble and the wearer can once again bite firmly. Even steaks and apples can be eaten with ease!
The social benefit, also, should not be underestimated. It is often the case that patients with full prostheses – which are attached to the palate by means of a suction effect – are no longer confident to laugh or smile openly. They worry that the prosthesis will come loose and perhaps even fall out – an embarrassing situation that cannot occur when a dental prosthesis is retained by an implant. Rather, this kind of prosthesis sits well and is advantageous with regard to both comfort and appearance.
Dental technicians can create a straight row of teeth in whatever shade is desired, restoring a radiant smile to a patient’s face. In doing so, they help to ensure a confident and open demeanour – a benefit that isn’t usually gained in the case of a full prosthesis.
While each age range brings its own challenges for the dentist, implantologist and dental technician, there is no maximum age for the use of implants. With the right diagnostics, the right materials and the input of experienced specialists, implants can work just as well on a 90-year-old patient as on a 30-year old. Although health-related factors place some restrictions on the use of implants, these factors are mostly not dependent on age.
Have you had experience with receiving an implant in old age? Or are you simply interested in finding out more? Let us share what you know by leaving a comment below.
Image source: Fotolia, © Darren Baker, #23907336