It’s just a fact of many people’s lives: As you get older, you can lose one or more teeth. While it’s possible to lose teeth at any age due to decay, accidents or gum disease, there’s something about aging that seems to make tooth loss more probable. It also makes repairing that tooth loss slightly more complicated in some cases. Here are a few tips from our dental implant specialists at Oakton Family Dentistry for what you need to know about getting implants when you’re older.
Tip #1: Don’t Delay Asking About an Implant if You Have Lost a Tooth.
Think of dental implant like an actual tooth. The implant has two basic parts, a “root” that anchors directly into your jawbone, and a crown that is made to look exactly like the tooth it is replacing. However, once you lose a tooth, the bone that anchored that tooth starts to recede. If you don’t replace a missing tooth right away, by the time you get started, you could suffer from too much bone loss for the implant to anchor properly.
Tip #2: If You Need Bone Grafts in Order to Be a Candidate for Dental Implants, Be Aware of The Time Frame.
If you decide to wait to replace a missing tooth and do end up with too much bone loss, there may be an option for you to have bone grafts inserted into your jawbone. This can not only benefit you by giving enough bone to have a place to insert an implant, but can also give your law more strength help to protect you from potentially breaking your jaw if you fall. However, you should know that the time frame for bone grafts plus implants can stretch to a year or more. Typically, it takes six months for your bone graft to heal enough to support an implant. It can take another 6 months for the implants to heal enough to support crowns being installed. When you’re making the decision whether or not to get implants, you should weigh the benefits against not only the cost, but also the time treatment will take if you wait.
Tip #3: Tell Your Dentist If You Suffer from Uncontrolled Diabetes or Autoimmune Disorders That Impact Your Ability to Heal.
Unfortunately, not everyone is a good candidate for dental implant surgery. Health conditions that affect your circulation, tissue repair, or wound healing may mean that dental implants are not right for you. Specifically, someone with diabetes, it doesn’t matter if it’s type 1 or type 2, if it’s not well controlled, if blood sugar readings are yo-yoing, then there will be a poor healing response. This doesn’t mean diabetics can’t have implants, it just imperative that they get their blood sugar and diabetes under control before proceeding with any treatment.
Pregnancy is also a contraindication for having a dental implant placed. During pregnancy the body is immune compromised. Your body may not be able to handle the healing process, so why risk it. It’s important to take x-rays throughout an implant procedure, and during pregnancy we avoid taking elective x-rays, so this will prevent us from being able to follow the healing process.
Bonus Tip for Any Age: Make It a Top Priority to Keep Your Permanent Teeth as Long as Possible.
This goes without saying, but if you can get your original set of teeth to last a lifetime, you’ll be thankful. The way to do this is to keep your gums as healthy as possible at a young age. Receding gums put your teeth at risk of having their roots exposed. These roots aren’t protected with the same amount of tough enamel that the crown of your tooth has, putting you at risk of decay starting in those exposed roots. It’s when that happens that you are most prone to losing one or more teeth. How do you keep your gums healthy? By brushing and visiting your dentist regularly.
See Oakton Family Dentistry for all your dental needs, from checkups to implants. We are here to serve you. Schedule your appointment today.