Two Challenges Associated With Dental Implants For Seniors
It's a given that you can get, and benefit from, dental implants at any age. However, it is also true that old people face unique health challenges that younger people may not have. Here are two of these challenges, and how they may impact the success of your oral health:
Low Bone Density
The quality (height, width and density) of the bone is one of the essential factors that determine whether an implant succeeds or fails. There should be enough bone to hold the length of the implant, and it should be strong enough to help the dental prosthesis stay in place for a long time. What has this got to do with old age?
According to Harvard Health Publications, aged persons tend to have osteopenia or osteoporosis, conditions of reduced bone density, with the latter being more serious than the other. If that is the situation with your teeth, then it is possible that your dentist will need to strengthen your jawbone. One technique for doing this involves harvesting bone from another part of your body and grafting it to your jaw.
As you grow old, your immune system becomes weak. Specifically:
- Macrophages go about their duty of eating foreign cells, such as bacteria, more slowly
- Your body produce fewer complement proteins
- The number of white blood cells (that should respond and defend against new antigens) in your blood is reduced
- Antibodies are less able to attach to antigens
As a result of all these impaired body reactions, you will struggle to deal with infections, including those that attack your oral cavity. This means your dental implant may take longer to heal, and an oral infection may destabilize it more than it would in a younger person.
So how do you deal with it? Well, you need to keep oral infections at bay, avoid things that damage your immune system and observe enhanced oral hygiene. For example, you should:
- Avoid smoking since it affects wound healing
- Brush and floss at least once daily; but preferably after every meal
- Maintain a healthy diet (your nutritionist will tell you if you need supplements)
As you can see, these are just challenges; they do not mean that you shouldn't get dental implants in old age. Just know that your body isn't as strong as it used to be, and you shouldn't ignore any of your dentist's instructions. With good oral care, your implants will succeed, and you will use them for many years. For more information, contact a local dental clinic like Rupp and Grabowski Family Dentistry.