If you are an older American who is missing one or more teeth, you might assume that partial dentures are the best way to replace your missing teeth. However, many senior dental patients choose to have dental implants installed instead.
Am I Too Old For Dental Implants?
Many people assume that dental implants are not suitable for senior citizens, as they are installed using an invasive surgical procedure. Older bodies are slower to recover from surgery than younger bodies, and can be more vulnerable to infections and other post-surgical complications.
However, dental implant technology has advanced tremendously since the first implants were installed, and the procedure has become much safer and less invasive. Most patients will fully recover from dental implant surgery in a matter of weeks, and the installation process has been refined to be as minimally invasive as possible.
As a result, many people in their 60s, 70s, or older are having dental implants installed safely. As long as you are in reasonably good health, don't smoke, and don't have any chronic health conditions that increase surgery risks (such as uncontrolled diabetes), there is a good chance you can have dental implants installed safely, no matter your age.
Why Are Implants Better Than Dentures?
Dental implants have a number of advantages over dentures and can be even more beneficial for older patients. Here are three key reasons to choose dental implants over dentures:
Promote Bone Strength
Bone density naturally deteriorates as you age, and the bones in your jaw are no exception. Wearing dentures can make this problem worse. Even small, partial dentures place a significant amount of pressure on the jaw bones directly beneath your gums, and can cause them to shrink and recede over time. This loss of jaw bone density can eventually cause other dental problems, and can loosen the teeth adjacent to your dentures.
Having dental implants installed can actually strengthen your jaw bones and restore bone density, leading to an overall improvement in your dental health. Implants are held in place by titanium 'posts', which are installed directly into your jaw bones. The installation of these posts stimulates repair responses in the surrounding bones, causing them to become stronger and denser over time.
Keeping your dentures clean on a day-to-day basis can be difficult and time-consuming, especially if you have limited mobility in your fingers and hands. You will also have to have your dentures resized and refitted on a regular basis, as the pressure they create reshapes your gum line and jaw bone structure. Poorly fitting dentures that aren't properly cleaned can cause serious oral health problems.
Dental implants are much easier to maintain and should be brushed and flossed the same way you clean your remaining, natural teeth. They are permanent tooth replacements that never need to be taken out, and will only need to be repaired or replaced if accidentally damaged.
Eat Anything You Want
Many people who use dentures avoid eating certain foods that can damage their dentures or cause other problems. For example, chewy foods (such as jerky) require a lot of chewing, which can damage dentures and place strain on your gums. The small seeds in strawberries and other soft fruits can get caught between your dentures and your gum line, causing bleeding and infections.
If you choose dental implants instead, you won't have to worry about avoiding certain foods. Using implants does not place any strain on your gums, and the implants themselves are just as strong (if not stronger) as your natural teeth.