You only have one set of adult teeth, and they need to last until you are 80, 90, or beyond. The actions you take towards your teeth today will either benefit you or harm you in the future. Of course, good dental care starts with seeing a dentist regularly. You should go in for cleanings and checkups, and any other time you think something might be amiss with your teeth. Education is important when it comes to any aspect of your health, so start reading the articles on this website to educate yourself about dentists and dental care. We promise that when you're 80 and you still have your teeth, you won't regret the time spent.
If you are an older adult who is missing one or more teeth, you may be exploring your tooth replacement options. One option you should certainly look into is dental implants. This type of dental restoration is inserted directly into your jaw bone and is considered to be the premier tooth replacement option in most cases. Here's what you need to know as a senior adult considering dental implants.
There are options for replacing multiple teeth.
Many people are under the impression that dental implants are designed to replace one tooth, whereas dentures are the only tooth replacement option when you're missing multiple teeth. This is not really the case. Although your dentist can use a single dental implant to replace one missing tooth, there is another style of dental implant known as an all-on-four implant that can be used to replace a whole arch of teeth. This type of implant consists of four posts inserted into your jaw bone and a whole arch (upper or lower) of teeth attached to those four posts.
If you are missing multiple teeth in a row but not all of your teeth, your dentist can take a similar approach. They can put one post in your jaw with several crowns attached to it.
Implants have many advantages over dentures.
You do need to have them surgically implanted and there is healing time involved, but implants are far superior to dentures in a lot of ways. They look like natural teeth, and once you are all healed, they will feel just like natural teeth when you chew and talk. You do not have to worry about removing them and storing them at night as you do with dentures. Also, implants do not move around at all in your mouth, so you won't have to deal with the sores and soreness that some denture wearers experience.
You can get implants as a diabetic.
You may assume that because you are diabetic, you can't get dental implants. Maybe you've been turned down for other procedures because of your diabetes, or perhaps a dentist told you years ago that diabetics could not get implants. The thinking on this has changed over the years. Dentists used to be hesitant to perform implant procedures on diabetics, but research has revealed that the risks are much lower than previously thought. Many dentists will now perform implant surgery on diabetics whose condition is well-controlled. You will just need to be extra cautious about following post-surgical instructions to ensure you heal well and avoid infections.
You might need bone grafts.
In order to insert dental implants, you must have a pretty healthy, substantial jaw bone. It is common for older adults not to have enough jaw bone to support implants. This is especially likely to be the case if you have been missing teeth for several years; jaw bone tends to deteriorate if you don't replace a missing tooth promptly. However, a small or weak jaw bone does not mean you can't get implants — it just means your dentist will need to perform a bone graft procedure beforehand.
A bone graft procedure is pretty simple. Your dentist will open up your gums and attach some cadaver bone to your jaw bone. Over the course of a few months, the bone will attach to your original bone, and then you can go ahead with the implant procedure. This adds an extra step to the process of getting implants, but most patients still feel implants are worth it.
Dental implants can be a good option for seniors who are missing one or more teeth, even when conditions like diabetes come into play. Talk to your dentist to learn more.