Dentures and dental implants are both possible options for older individuals who have experienced tooth loss or decay and our dentists can help you decide what’s best for you. Dentures can work well for patients and are sometimes the better option depending on individual circumstances but they also come with a few downsides.
Dental implants are an oral surgery procedure that eliminates the problems that some denture wearers experience. For example, dentures need to be removed nightly for soaking and cleaning purposes and to avoid drying out whereas, of course, implants are permanent and never need to be removed.
An additional problem that many denture wearers experience is the pain due to dentures rubbing against the gums. When fit correctly, this should not be a problem, but mouths and gums can undergo natural changes that cause the dentures to no longer fit correctly. If denture pain is ignored, it can possibly lead to serious problems that may even require oral surgery.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are permanent teeth (or a single tooth) that are anchored directly into the jaw bone. The dental implant procedure is a permanent solution to missing teeth and once they are installed, they act just like your natural teeth. There are a few types of implants that differ in terms of details such as how they are secured in the mouth and the material the anchors or “roots” are made from. This information will be explained to you by your dentist so you are fully aware of what you are receiving and why it will work best for you individually.
Are dental implants safe for older patients?
Sometimes older patients are more likely than younger patients to have oral concerns that may interfere with their candidacy for dental implants. This is mostly due to a longer duration of poor oral habits or as a result of certain diseases which are more likely to affect older adults.
Some seniors may have bone density concerns that could mean that the jawbone is not strong enough to endure the implant procedure or to hold the implants securely in place. When the foundation (the jawbone) is not strong enough, it is not advisable to receive dental implants.
For older patients with gum-related oral issues, dental implants may not be advisable in these cases, either. Again, poor oral hygiene, extended tobacco use, and some diseases such as diabetes can all impact overall gum health. Your dentist will be able to further inform you of your current gum health and whether or not they can sustain dental implants. Gum health is important for keeping the implants in place. Attempting to install implants with unhealthy gums–as with a weakened jawbone–can lead to worse oral concerns.
One additional point to note is that dental implants require the same consistent care as natural teeth. If a patient is hindered by arthritis, pain, or anything that impedes the ability to care for their implants, a different route may be suggested by your dentist to ensure the best possible oral health and outcome for the patient. Here is a great article on WebMD regarding dental implant risks.