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Am I Too Old for Dental Implants?

I had my teeth replaced years ago with dentures. I don’t think dental implants existed back then, or at least he never mentioned them to me. They haven’t been the best thing in my life. They were ugly, looking almost wooden, but served their purpose so I put up with them. Now they’re no longer serving me well. In fact, I’m having a hard time even keeping them in. My face is kind of mashing around them. Am I too old to get dental implants? If so, what are my options?

Evelyn S.

Dear Evelyn,

Your situation is not uncommon, though remarkably unpleasant for you. I’m sorry you’re facing this right now. Life is stressful enough without trials that make even the simplest of tasks like smiling and eating challenging.

What’s happening to you is known as facial collapse. It’s the result of wearing dentures for a certain period of years. Here’s what happens. When your teeth were removed, your body began reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone to use throughout your body. It does that for the sake of efficiency, recognizing that you no longer have tooth roots so the minerals are more useful elsewhere. Of course, your body doesn’t know about the technology available and that you might still want those minerals to keep in your dentures.

Your jawbone shrinks as the minerals move on to better pastures, making it impossible for you to keep in your dentures any longer. It’s also what’s causing the mashed up look around your mouth, aging your appearance, as you can see from the picture above.

Dental Implants: The Solution for Facial Collapse

Your age isn’t a factor in dental implants as much as the state of your health. In order to go through the implant surgery, you’d need to be in good general health. If that’s the case, the next step would be to evaluate your bone strength both making sure you have enough bone to retain the implants and it’s strong.

Without that, your implants wouldn’t be able to stay in your mouth, leading to dental implant failure. There is a solution, fortunately. Bone grafting is a great procedure and has advanced to the point where they can do it in one day, outpatient. This builds up the necessary bone in your jaw so you have enough for the implants. Because of how long you’ve been wearing your dentures, you’ll definitely need to have bone grafting done.

You brought up the issue of your denture’s appearance being obviously unnatural. That’s not because they’re dentures. That’s because of the quality of your dentist and his skill level in cosmetic work. Dentures, done by an artistic cosmetic dentist can not only look natural but look absolutely stunning. It’s like getting a total smile makeover with porcelain veneers.

So, in order for your smile to end up attractive, you’re going to want to be certain your dentist has expertise in both dental implants AND cosmetic dentistry. For the implants, ask them about their post-graduate training. Also ask them about their success rate. It should run about 98%. For the cosmetic end. Look on the mynewsmile.com website. They have a tool to help patients locate skilled, artistic cosmetic dentists by location.

A dentist cannot purchase their way onto the site. Instead, they have to demonstrate their technical skill and show cases they’ve performed themselves showing they have the artistry necessary to give you a beautiful smile.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Newkirk.