You may be considering dental implants if you are missing one or more of your natural teeth because you have heard that they are the next best thing to still having natural teeth. This is true for several reasons. First, a dental implant replaces your missing tooth roots as well as the tooth itself. The new root, made from titanium, helps to secure your replacement teeth in place better than dentures. It also prevents your remaining teeth from shifting out of position. Other important benefits include:
- Restored chewing and speaking ability
- No need to remove the replacement teeth to clean them
- Appear completely natural
- Prevent facial sagging
- No fear of an embarrassing mishap, such as your teeth falling out of your mouth when you eat, laugh, cough, or sneeze
Despite these benefits, dental implants may not be the right choice for everyone. This includes patients under age 18.
Why Children and Teenagers Are Not Good Candidates for Dental Implants
Before a patient can receive a dental implant, he or she must have a fully developed jaw. This typically does not happen until the late teenage or even early adult years. Therefore, the dental team at Southbridge Dentistry rarely perform a dental implant procedure on anyone 17 years or younger. However, this age limit is not an absolute as jaw development is a more important factor than age.
To determine if a teenaged patient may be ready for dental implants, one of our dentists can take an X-ray of his or her bones to determine if they appear sufficiently developed to proceed with surgery. Of course, we also obtain parental permission for patients under age 18 who desire to replace missing teeth with dental implants.
No Upper Age Limit for Dental Implants
According to the American Dental Association, half of men and women over age 65 have at least one missing tooth. This makes them ideal candidates for the dental implant procedure, including elderly people in their 80s and 90s. While we consider the patient’s overall health before recommending dental implants, simply being an older adult typically does not exclude anyone. In fact, seniors who have lived with removable dentures for many years may feel ready to make the switch to permanent, non-removable dental implants.
The biggest difference between younger and older dental implant patients is how people come to have missing teeth in the first place. Young adults lose teeth in accidents more often while older adults tend to lose teeth to decay and disease. Regardless of how you lost your natural tooth or teeth, we encourage you to ask Dr. Barker, Dr. Kissinger, Dr. Svoboda, or Dr. Hoover whether dental implants are the most appropriate tooth replacement option for you. Feel free to schedule a consultation and initial exam to learn more about the process at your earliest convenience.