senior, elderly man showing off his natural smile thanks to dental implantsDental implants are the best tooth replacement option available. They are the only option that actually mimics the structure of your natural teeth, with a tooth root that is anchored in the jawbone and an attractive crown on top. They can also be used to anchor dentures so that you can talk, chew, and smile with full confidence.

But if you lose a tooth at an advanced age, you may worry that you are too old for dental implants. Let us put that fear to rest right now: you’re never too old for dental implants. As long as you are healthy enough for surgery, a Savannah implant dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry can help.

Dental Implants Successful for Elderly Patients

There are many potential reasons why dental implants in Savannah might not be as successful for elderly patients as they are for younger patients. Osteoporosis, for example, can degrade the quality of bones in the jaw, making it harder for the dental implant to integrate and hold. Gum disease risk can increase with age, and gum disease can attack dental implants the way it attacks natural teeth.

But evidence shows that despite these concerns, dental implants are just as successful in elderly patients as in younger ones. For example, a 2004 study reviewed success rates after five years for dental implants in patients that were over 80 and those that were under 80. They found that the two groups had basically the same success rates. Patients over 80 had success rates for implants of 93.0% and 99.5% in the upper and lower jaws, respectively, compared to 92.6% and 99.7% for younger patients.

A 2011 study of dental implants in elderly patients showed about the same survival rates after five years, 93.9% in the upper jaw and 99.3% in the lower jaw.

More recent research looked specifically at early implant loss among elderly patients, those aged 65 and over. This study included 444 patients with a total of 1517 dental implants. Of these implants, only 10 failed to integrate into the bone, a failure rate of 0.66%. Breaking down the patients by age, it seemed that the oldest patients (over age 80) had a higher failure rate. They experienced a failure rate of 2.26%, compared to as little as 0.38% for lower age groups. However, this difference was not statistically significant. Even assuming the failure rate for this group is accurate, it indicates a nearly 98% success rate for dental implants even in the oldest patients.

There are many reports of patients who successfully get dental implants in their 90s. There is no reason why people of this age should not consider dental implants. Currently, the record for the oldest person with dental implants is 100 years and 210 days.

Why Implants Are Worth It for Elderly Patients

Another question elderly patients might have about dental implants is: are they worth it for me? After all, why should I invest in something designed to last 50 years or more if I might not live 10 or 20?

However, if you are older, you should consider dental implants in Savannah because:

  • Life might be longer than you think
  • Implants can make your remaining years better
  • Implants can help you be healthier

These make dental implants a great investment for people of any age.

Life Can Be Long

First, it’s important to remember that you might have many more years to live than you think. After all, when you were a crazy teen, did you ever imagine you’d live this long? Although we have recently seen life expectancy creep back, people are still living longer these days than in the distant past.

Have Better Quality of Life

Perhaps more important than the years in your life is the amount of life you can pack into those years. Dental implants can significantly improve your quality of life for the years to come. One study demonstrated this in “very old” patients (75 and older) who were institutionalized or otherwise depended on others for help with daily activities. These patients experienced more satisfaction with their replacement teeth than traditional denture wearers, and they also had a higher quality of life thanks to dental implants.

Be Healthier

Another important benefit of dental implants is that you can be healthier. In the study of “very old” patients above, the ones that had dental implants retained their weight better than others. They developed better chewing muscles and had higher bite force. Some studies link stronger bite force with a longer life expectancy.

In addition, multiple studies link chewing with a reduced risk of dementia. Some studies even show that dental implants can help preserve your cognitive ability. This makes them a great choice for people potentially facing cognitive decline.

Can You Get Dental Implants?

Now that you understand the benefits dental implants offer to even the oldest patients, you might be considering them more seriously. While literal age is not an issue for dental implants,  your health matters. In deciding whether you should get dental implants, our Savannah implant dentists always consider your:

  • General health
  • Oral health
  • Bone health

Talk to your doctor about surgery and whether there are any concerns for you. Dental implant surgery is not very invasive. We can pick the anesthesia and sedation options that will be safest for you. We’ll want to know about any medications you’re taking. This includes over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements.

Oral health is another important factor. First, we’ll determine whether you have gum disease and whether that will threaten your dental implants. We’ll also talk to you about your ability to perform oral hygiene (for example, does arthritis make it hard for you to brush or floss your teeth?) to determine whether your oral health will continue to be good or might decline in the future. We’ll give you tips to help you take care of your dental implants.

Finally, we need to make sure that your bones are in good shape for supporting dental implants. Tell us about any experiences you’ve had recently that can show us your bone health (for example, how did recovery from a recent hip replacement surgery go? Did you heal well after a recent fracture? etc.) Then we’ll have a good idea about what your dental implant experience will be like.

If you are a patient of any age who is considering dental implants, please call (912) 234-8282 for an appointment with a Savannah cosmetic dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry today.