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Dental Implants for Seniors

A Brownstown Dental Care blog post by Dr. Ben Hanson

Tooth loss is one of the most common issues we see among adult patients at Brownstown Dental Care. Many of our patients with tooth loss are over the age of 65.

Tooth loss can lead to many oral and overall health issues, including malnutrition, which makes tooth replacement critical. Dental implants are the best option for tooth replacement because they look, feel, and function more like natural teeth. However, are dental implants for seniors a good idea?

In this article, we’ll explore more about dental implants and how this option works for senior patients. We’ll also explore dental implant costs for seniors as well as full-mouth dental implants for seniors options.

Dental Implants Explained

350x dental implants4Dentures and bridges sit on the gums, replacing only the missing tooth’s visible portion, or crown. A dental implant is a device that is designed to replace the entire structure of the missing tooth. A traditional implant consists of three pieces:

  • Implant screw, which replaces the tooth root
  • Abutment, which connects the crown with the implant screw
  • Crown, which replaces the visible portion of the tooth

Dental implants offer a variety of benefits that support oral and overall health. The primary disadvantage of this option is the cost. Dental implants are considered the “gold standard” in tooth replacement procedures because it is the strongest, safest, and most predictable option.

Dental Implant Options for Seniors

If the patient is only missing one tooth, we recommend a single dental implant. On the other hand, if multiple teeth are missing, we may recommend an implant-supported bridge or implant dentures. Typically, All-on-4 dental implants or All-on-6 dental implants are recommended as full-mouth dental implants for seniors because these options use 4 or 6 dental implants to replace an entire arch of missing teeth.

Average Cost of Dental Implants for Seniors

The average cost of a single dental implant is around $5,000. Full-mouth dental implants for seniors can be $60,000 or more. Hybrid options, such as All-on-4 dental implants cost an average of $12,000 per arch. These costs only include the surgery, implant, and prosthesis. This does not take into account additional procedures or costs associated with the procedure.

What to Expect

There are several steps involved in the dental implant procedure:

  • Consultation

    The dentist/surgeon will perform a comprehensive exam, take some images, and discuss your options. If you need additional procedures, such as extractions, gum disease treatment, or anything else, those will be completed prior to implant placement. Sedation options may also be discussed. Local anesthesia is included in the cost of the implants- but we do offer sedation options if needed.

  • Implant Placement

    When your jaw is ready, the implants will be placed. For traditional implants, an incision will be cut in the gum and a hole drilled in the jawbone. The implant will be inserted into the hole and the incision will be closed. Depending on how many implants you are getting, a temporary dental prosthesis may be placed.

    While everyone’s experience is different, most people experience only minor discomfort and are able to return to their normal daily activities after about 24 to 48 hours. Still, you may experience some minor pain, bruising, swelling, and/or bleeding for a few days after surgery. This can typically be managed with OTC pain relievers. However, you will have a prescription pain reliever if you need something stronger.

  • Healing/Osseointegration

    The healing process involves the jawbone healing around and fusing with the implant through a process known as osseointegration. This creates a strong, stable foundation for your artificial teeth.

    You will want to stick to a liquid diet for the first few days due to avoid causing too much discomfort. After that, you can transition to a soft food diet, which you will need to stick to for a few weeks until osseointegration has occurred. This will help avoid damaging or shifting the implants.

  • Abutment Placement

    Once osseointegration is complete, a small connector will be attached to the implant screw. This is known as the abutment. Depending on your condition, this may be done at the same time as implant placement.

    The dentist will make an impression of your mouth, which will be sent to the dental lab for the fabrication of your artificial teeth.

  • Placement of Artificial Teeth

    Once the clinic receives your dental prosthesis, an appointment will be scheduled for placement. The dentist will check the fit before securing it in place. The prosthesis may be fixed or removable. While your artificial teeth are not susceptible to decay, practicing proper oral hygiene, including exams/cleanings every 6 months is still important.

Tips for Managing Dental Implants for Seniors

Following dental implant surgery, you can expect to experience:

  • Minor pain/bleeding at the surgery site
  • Swelling of gums/face
  • Bruising of skin and gums

In most cases, the dentist or surgeon will use self-dissolving stitches. If not, you will need to have them removed. Typically, the dentist will prescribe antibiotics to help reduce your risk of infection and/or pain medication to manage the pain.

How to Care for Dental Implants for Seniors

350x generic3Dental implants have a 95% to 98% success rate. However, there is still a small risk of implant failure. In some cases, the jawbone doesn’t fuse with the implant. If this happens, the implant will need to be removed and may be placed again in the future. The best way to improve your chances of success include:

  • Practicing proper oral hygiene
  • Visiting the dentist twice yearly for an exam and cleaning
  • Avoid tobacco use
  • Avoid using teeth as tools and/or biting fingernails
  • Avoid chewing ice or on hard candies

It’s also important to note that, while low, there is a risk of bleeding complications, allergic reactions, and infection. There is also a risk of nerve damage, which can occur if the surgeon places the implant too close to the nerve.

The signs and symptoms of implant failure/rejection include fever, chills, excessive bleeding, and/or pain at the implant site. If you experience these, contact the clinic as soon as possible for treatment.

Schedule Your Dental Implant Consultation Today

If you are interested in learning more about dental implants for seniors, contact the team at Brownstown Dental Care today. In addition to dental implants, we also offer a variety of dental procedures for the entire family.

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