It’s no surprise that more patients are turning to dental implants as a tooth replacement option, given the devices’ superior performance in terms of aesthetics and function. Still, patients have a number of questions before undergoing the procedure. Many of them ask Dr. Stephen Weisglass, an implant dentist serving Roslyn, if they are too old (or too young) for dental implants.
The biomechanics of dental implants are at the heart of this issue. After an implant dentist places the small titanium screws in the jaw, the implants fuse with the bone over time. This process is essential to an implant’s long-term success.
As such, dental implants may not be appropriate for children and some adolescents. The jaw bone should be fully developed before implants are placed, or further changes in the jaw could compromise the implant. Nonetheless, in rare cases, implants may be appropriate for this age group if they are part of an overarching orthodontic treatment plan.
There is no upper age limit for dental implants. However, the patient must have sufficient bone material to sustain the implant. After a tooth is lost, the jaw bone begins to recede in the vicinity because there’s no longer a root to hold the bone in place. This is a particular concern for edentulous patients who have been long-term denture wearers. They may have lost a significant amount of bone, which could present the risk of implant failure.
Even for patients with major bone loss, implants can still be an option. The implant dentist can increase the amount of bone through a surgical augmentation or graft. For implant-supported dentures, the implants can be located in spots that take advantage of the bone that remains, which is typically closer to the front of the mouth.
Of course, age is not the sole determinant of a dental implant’s success. If a patient has advanced gum disease, that must be treated before implants can be placed. Smokers are also more likely to experience implant failure, so patients should attempt to quit smoking before their dentures are placed.
Before getting dental implants, you should review any potential complications with your implant dentist. This will protect your investment in a long-term smile enhancement.