Naturally, elderly people go through a phase of bone loss and losing their natural teeth. This is common as they age and as they encounter periodontal disease.
However, as technology advances, dental implants are being created for senior patients for oral health.
Read more to know everything before getting dental implants!
What Are Senior Dental Implants?
In dental implant surgery, tooth roots are replaced with other teeth, mainly metal posts resembling screws.
The damaged or missing teeth are examined to place dental implants with prosthetics that resemble their natural look and function.
When there are insufficient natural tooth roots to allow for the construction of dentures or bridgework tooth replacements, dental implant surgery can provide a welcome alternative.
The Procedure and Treatment for Dental Implants
Dental implant placement may be a long process and requires delicate treatment. We have laid out all the relevant information for your convenience.
The Procedure of Dental Implants for Seniors
- Initial Evaluation – The first thing to be done when getting implants for seniors is an oral health condition consultation. Depending on tooth loss, you will decide how many teeth you want to replace with implants.
- Tooth Extraction – Your dentist will extract any remaining teeth that need to be replaced if you still have any before beginning the dental work. In most cases, dentists will cover the options for anesthetics for less discomfort.
- Insertion of Dental Implant and Bone Support – There are two kinds of dental implants: (1) placed just beneath the gum line and (2) implanted into the jawbone. If the implant is added to the jaw bone, you might need additional bone because a strong jaw requires a lot of pressure in chewing. (NOTE: Additional jaw bone must not be near the implant site.)
- Abutment Placement – The dentist will install an upper abutment of your implant after it is secure enough. This component joins your crown and implant. It must be tightened to ensure that the abutment stays in position as you eat. During this, the only sensation you’ll experience is a little pressure. To prevent bone and tissue from covering the abutment, the dentist will apply a healing cap in your mouth for lesser pain.
- Addition of Permanent Crown – Your dentist will create your prosthetic tooth or crown once your gums have healed. Both detachable and permanent are options. Dental implants are attached permanently and cannot be taken out to be cleaned or replaced.
The Treatment for Dental Implants for Seniors Post-Surgery
Here are the best practices you should do after going through the procedure:
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your teeth
- Use a low-abrasive toothpaste
- Brush the area surrounding and beneath the implant crown
- To clean difficult-to-reach areas, use an interdental brush with a nylon coating
- Use implant-specific floss or unwaxed tape to floss every day
The Benefits of Dental Implants for Seniors
Here are the advantages you can expect when getting dental implants:
- Restores chewing ability than dentures
- Restores the smile
- Helps keep the jawbone from shrinking due to bone loss
- Preserves the health of the surrounding bone and gums
- Helps keep adjacent teeth stable
- Improves quality of life
The Risks of Dental Implant Treatment
While there are advantages, there are also disadvantages and risks you should be wary about:
- Damage to surrounding natural teeth during implant placement
- Injury to the surrounding tissues during surgery, such as sinus perforation
- Injury during surgery (e.g., fracture of the surrounding jawbone)
- Inadequate function, such as feeling like the teeth do not bite together normally
- A sensation that the tooth is loose or twisting in place resulting from an abutment screw loosening
Dental Implants Cost for Seniors
Each implant will typically cost between $2,000 and $3,000. This price only applies to the implant — it does NOT cover the cost of the abutment or the crown.
You could pay as much as $6,000 per tooth if the price of the abutment and crown are taken into account!
Are Dental Implants for Seniors Covered by Medicare?
Cleanings, fillings, dentures, and tooth extractions are all dental services that are necessary for the maintenance of your health, yet the costs are NOT covered by Medicare.
What to Expect After Getting Dental Implant Surgery
Normal and expected side effects include:
- Facial and gum swelling
- Light bruising
- Soreness at the implant site
- Minimal bleeding
- Pain in the mouth
Hard foods should generally be avoided throughout the healing process, and your oral surgeon may offer pain medication or antibiotics following surgery to speed up your recovery.
Top Tips for Taking Care of Your Dental Implants
For a general guide on maintaining and caring for your implants for as long as possible, keep these tips in mind:
- Use Soft Nylon Brush: This is due to the bristles on nylon toothbrushes being flexible and mild on your dental implants.
- Avoid Abrasive Products: Once you have dental implants in your life, you should try to limit your purchases to delicate cleaning products, such as mouthwash and toothpaste. This is because abrasive products may result in excruciating agony.
- Floss Daily: Dental implants make flossing as crucial than ever. This is because plaque can quickly build up around the area, which can cause other dental hygiene problems.
- Avoid Solid Foods: Eating solid or sticky foods can harm your implant surgery. Not to mention that these foods might also damage the teeth on either side.
- Avoid Smoking and Alcohol: For your general health, it’s a good idea to abstain from drinking and smoking.
Is It Better to Have Dentures or Implants?
Dentures frequently cause discomfort and lack the strong tooth structures needed to chew solid foods and maintain a healthy diet.
Dentures need to be replaced more regularly, which adds up over time.
For many people who are elderly, permanent dental implants are a more effective and stable solution than dentures.
People are living longer and in better health than ever before, and having healthy, strong teeth is crucial to our quality of life.
For a quick comparison of implants and dentures, we listed down their respective pros and cons:
Pros & Cons of Dentures
- Less costly
- Dentures are an alternative to tooth loss
- Has an upper age limit
- Improve the quality of smile
- Do not look natural
- Increased risk of gum disease
- May loosen over time
- Requires more consultation
Pros & Cons of Implants
- Looks and feels like natural teeth
- Fast and easy procedure
- Restore eating and chewing ability
- Implants are an alternative to missing teeth
- Can be used for seniors with older age
- Requires surgery and takes a long time to heal
- May require X-rays
Frequently Asked Questions
Dental implants for seniors may raise many questions in your mind, but it is NOT a worry because we have all the answers for you!
Are Dental Implants Suitable for the Elderly?
YES! Elderly patients and those with low bone density (osteoporosis/osteopenia) can have dental implants with the same success and predictability as younger patients.
Should 70-Year-Olds Get Implants?
YES! Most patients at this age opt for implants and dentures to improve their eating ability.
Oral surgeons, periodontists, and implant dentists will typically hesitate to suggest implants for patients over 85.
The elderly are more likely to have chronic conditions that could slow healing.
Who Is Not a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
Certain medical conditions, such as cancer, hemophilia, and diabetes, may affect a person’s eligibility for dental implants because these conditions can slow the healing process.
Can a Dental Implant Be Done in One Day?
Depending on the quantity of implanted teeth, same-day implants can typically be completed in a single process lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours.
Tooth decay and tooth loss are in dire need of tooth replacement and are common as the body ages.
Most older patients resort to wearing dentures as they fit securely as their new teeth.
However, dental implants for seniors are much more preferred than dentures because they are long-lasting and restore the shape of your mouth.
Hence, implant replacement teeth are common for senior citizens with missing teeth to improve their quality of life and also allow them to smile without worry.