Dental implants are by far the best tooth replacement method available for patients who suffer from one or more missing teeth. Dental implants’ strength, longevity, convenience, and appearance excel above the alternative options like dental bridges or dentures.
Another great benefit of dental implants is that almost everyone is a candidate. We want to ensure everyone knows to assume they’re a candidate for dental implants unless their dentist says otherwise—and then they should get a second opinion!
In particular, you should never assume that you’re too old for dental implants because age itself does not disqualify you from getting implants.
The Oldest Dental Implant Patient
Let’s cut right to the chase here. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest dental implant patient was Filomena Battista, aged 100 years and 210 days old when she got her dental implants in 2012.
If you’re older than that, we might want to call Guinness because you might still be able to get dental implants. Let’s consider what you need to get successful dental implants.
Overall Success Is Good for Elderly Patients
It is hard to do long-term dental implant studies with elderly patients. However, our information suggests that older patients can have success with dental implants.
One long-term study followed patients up to 17 years after dental implant placement. This study looked at 906 implants placed in 346 patients (aged from 65-89 years). They detected only 29 implant failures. They calculated that implants had a 99.98% survival rate when considered on a per-patient basis.
Furthermore, the analysis showed that people aged 70-74 actually had a better implant survival rate than patients aged 65-69 years. Researchers concluded that “age alone does not seem to affect the implant survival rate.”
Three Basic Characteristics of Dental Implant Candidates
Dental implant candidacy does not depend on age, but you must meet the following basic requirements:
- Have one or more missing teeth (or expect to lose teeth)
- Have jaws that have finished growing
- Be in good health
First, of course, you have to have one or more missing teeth. Dental implants replace missing teeth, so they aren’t any good if you aren’t missing any. Sometimes, we might plan dental implant surgery to replace teeth you haven’t lost yet, but can’t be saved. Then we can often perform extractions and implant placement during the same appointment.
Dental implants don’t bond with the jawbone the same way natural teeth do. The practical effect is the same for most purposes, but not for when the bone grows and shifts, such as orthodontics or a still-maturing jaw. Dental implants aren’t considered a good option for children, and you should wait to get dental implants until after straightening your teeth. This won’t disqualify older patients since most jaws stop growing in early adulthood.
The most likely disqualification for older patients is not being healthy enough for dental implant surgery. This is not major surgery, but it’s important to make sure your doctor clears you for the procedure. Don’t forget to talk to your doctor about anesthesia and sedation dentistry options.
Age-Related Factors Might Affect Your Success Rate
You don’t have to give up on dental implants because of your age, but there are some age-related factors you will have to consider before you decide to invest in dental implants.
Dental implants might not work as well for you if you:
- Have serious gum disease
- Lost natural teeth long ago
- Are taking certain medications
- Got radiation treatment for your head or neck
- Can’t perform good oral hygiene
Gum disease is an infection of the area around your teeth. Gum disease is not only the leading cause of tooth loss; it’s also the leading cause of dental implant failure. Gum disease also increases with age. The CDC estimates about 70% of adults age 65 and over have gum disease. Often, we can treat your gum disease to protect your implants.
Once you lose your teeth, your body begins to remove bone, thinking that the bone isn’t necessary anymore. The longer you have been without teeth, the less remaining bone you will have to support implants. We can build up your bone with a bone graft, but it takes more time and is more expensive. Solutions like All-on-X also offer an alternative to bone grafts if you’re trying to replace an entire arch of teeth.
Some medications can increase the risk of implant failure or other complications. We’ll review your medications and help you understand possible risks.
Another thing that can cause severe complications for dental implants is radiation therapy. If you recently got radiation therapy for cancer in the head or neck, we might recommend waiting before getting implants or deciding against them.
Dental implants don’t require special care, but you do have to care for them like natural teeth. You must be able to brush and floss around dental implants to keep them healthy. Dental implants might not be a great choice if manual dexterity or other causes currently keep you from good oral hygiene.
Talk to an Implant Dentist in Rancho Mirage
Ultimately, the best way to determine whether dental implants are right for you is to schedule a consultation with our Rancho Mirage office. Implant dentist Dr. Strober can examine your current oral health and help you move forward with a treatment plan for your missing teeth.
If you have further questions about dental implants, please contact us today to schedule your consultation.