Thanks to today’s advances in dental technology, we can replace missing teeth with implants for a smile that looks healthy, natural, and complete. If you’re worried that you’re too old for dental implants, good news! While younger patients must wait until their jaw bones are completely developed before implant surgery, there is no upper age limit for dental implants.
In fact, studies have shown that patients aged 65 and over have high rates of successful implantation, long-term implant retention, and minimal complications. Of course, as our bodies age, there are changes that take place. And some of these changes can make an implant procedure more challenging.
Fortunately, oral surgeons like Dr. Ford and Dr. Guter have the training, experience, and advanced techniques to make implants possible even in challenging circumstances. Two important concerns for older patients are bone density and healing ability. What can Dr. Ford and Dr. Guter do to address these concerns?
- Bone Grafting
A complete tooth replacement consists of an implant that serves as a “root” to anchor the tooth in the bone, an abutment that is secured in the implant and extends above the gum line, and a crown restoration that is attached to the abutment.
Dr. Ford and Dr. Guter will drill a small hole in the jawbone for the implant and carefully place it in position in the jaw. Over a period of months, this implant will become integrated into the bone just like a natural root. You can see why one of the most important requirements for a successful implant is having enough healthy bone in which to anchor it.
But after losing a tooth, the bone under the missing tooth gradually shrinks without the pressure and stimulation of chewing. As time passes, more bone loss occurs.
If there is not enough bone size and density to support an implant, you can still regain the structure you need for success with surgical bone grafting. This is a type of surgery which uses your own bone, a synthetic grafting material, or a processed bone grafting material to repair and replace damaged bone. After approximately three to four months of healing, the jawbone has recovered enough volume and density to accept an implant.
And one wonderful bonus? An implant gives your jawbone the same pressure and stimulation that your natural tooth did, preventing future bone loss.
- PRP Treatment
One consequence of aging is that older bones simply don’t heal as rapidly as younger bones. If this is a concern for you, an encouraging new treatment for implants in older patients is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP). This plasma is rich in platelet growth factors and has shown promising results in bone and tissue regeneration as well as faster healing.
After drawing a small amount of your own blood, the blood is immediately centrifuged to separate and collect the platelet-rich plasma. This plasma is then mixed with bone grafting material. And, because the PRP is composed of your own blood cells and plasma, there is no chance of rejection, reaction, or disease transmission.
If you have any concerns about your age, the implant procedure, bone health, healing time, or any other issue, talk to Dr. Ford and Dr. Guter.
After all, as oral surgeons, we are specialists. We have a minimum of four years of surgical education and training in a hospital-based residency program. We train with medical residents in advanced studies, which include general surgery, anesthesiology, internal medicine, plastic surgery, and otolaryngology (the study of the ear, nose, and throat). We are experts not only in implant procedures, but in adapting procedures successfully for your individual needs.
There is nothing like the look and feel of a natural smile. Make an appointment at our Virginia Beach, VA office to talk about dental implants. After all, a healthy, attractive smile is something we deserve at any age.