Some dentists might turn away elderly dental implant patients based on some conventional wisdom that people over the age of 65 might not experience proper bone healing or have sufficient bone density to support dental implants. And then there’s the risk of gum disease, which threatens dental implants as well as natural teeth, and tends to increase in risk with age.
But a newly published study shows that elderly patients have good success with dental implants, essentially the same as younger patients.
Over 95% Success Rate
This study, which has been published online ahead of print, did a long-term follow-up with 346 elderly patients who received 906 dental implants. These patients ranged in age from 65 to 89, and follow-up was performed from two to 17 years after dental implants were placed.
Of the original 906 dental implants, only 29 failed, making for an overall survival rate over 95%! What’s more, the analysis didn’t show that implants were more likely to fail as the patients got older, since the highest rate of failure was among patients aged 65-69. This might be because tooth loss at a younger age signaled a greater risk of gum disease, or it might be related to the fact that over half of all dental implant failures occur in the first year.
Why Were We Concerned in the First Place?
When we look at the success rates for these patients, some might wonder whether we were right to be concerned about dental implants for elderly patients in the first place. But just because dental implants might work well for elderly patients in general, it doesn’t mean that they will work well for all elderly patients. There are some factors we will have to consider to determine if dental implants are right for you.
Osteoporosis might mean that you don’t have enough bone to support dental implants, which we can evaluate before placing your implants. And your osteoporosis medication might be a concern, too. If you’re getting powerful forms of bisphosphonates–usually those delivered intravenously–they can increase your risk of certain complications.
And we will want to evaluate your gum disease risk. If we can’t get your gum disease under control, dental implants might not be a good investment for you.
Finally, arthritis, whether osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, might make it harder for you to care for your teeth or dental implants properly. If your hands and your oral care have been impacted by arthritis, we might recommend against dental implants.
And, of course, there are some bad habits that can lead to implant failure.
Dental Implants Can Improve Quality of Life
There are very good reasons why you should consider dental implants no matter your age. In the past, you might have considered slowing down when you reached age 65, but these days we all want to continue enjoying our lives in our golden years. Partly because there are so many of them.
In the US, a man will expect to live another 18 years, while a woman will live over 20 years! That’s a lot of time to live with dentures, when dental implants could help you live a richer, fuller life, and make it easier to enjoy food and other aspects of an active, rich lifestyle. That makes dental implants a better choice today.