Having a million-dollar smile doesn’t have to cost you a million dollars. There has never been a better time to finally – and permanently – fix your missing or damaged teeth. Advancements in technology, a competitive market, cheaper pricing and a variety of payment options make dental implants more affordable for seniors than ever.
If you have missing or damaged teeth, you are not alone. Seniors in particular suffer tooth loss due to gum disease, tooth decay, injury and chronic disease. Among people 65 and older, 20 percent have untreated tooth decay, 68 percent have gum disease, and nearly 1 in 5 have no remaining teeth.
Good oral health is a quality-of-life issue. In fact, one study of older adults shows a connection between tooth loss and mental and physical decline. Moreover, medical research suggests a link between poor oral health and general health, noting associations with heart disease, stroke, pneumonia, diabetes control, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, skin ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers.
Missing teeth and ill-fitting dentures can cause pain and make you self-conscious, limiting your enjoyment of life. With dental implants, you’ll have the confidence you need to lead a rewarding and active lifestyle without worrying about smiling, eating, talking and laughing.
Dental implants are a permanent option to replace missing or damaged teeth. The procedure affixes an artificial tooth (a crown) to a post that is surgically implanted into the jawbone, much like a natural tooth’s roots. Each crown is custom made to match the shape, size and color of your natural teeth, so they look and feel real.
Unlike dentures and bridges, implants fit securely so they’re more comfortable and won’t slip when you chew. That means you can eat more of what you want – no more soft-food diets that can lead to poor nutrition. Dental implants are stable; they don’t need to be removed and soaked like dentures and bridges, so you can ditch those adhesives and fixatives that add cost and bother. And while dentures and bridges can break, leading to expensive repairs or replacement, dental implants won’t decay and likely will never have to be replaced.
With success rates estimated as high as 98 percent, dental implants are a reliable solution. Coupled with a good dental hygiene regimen of daily flossing, brushing and regular dental checkups, your dental implants can last a lifetime.
Dental problems only get worse with time. Opting for dental implants now will help support your existing teeth and keep them from shifting position. Filling the gaps left from missing teeth reduces the pain of improper jaw alignment and helps prevent jawbone deterioration, which can alter the look of your face and make you appear older.
Maintaining a healthy jawbone also is important for successful implantation. People with healthy jawbones are good candidates for dental implants because the implant can more quickly and easily fuse with the existing bone. In some cases, patients with strong natural bone can get a temporary tooth the same day the implant post is placed.
With the number of seniors growing, so is the market for dental implants. The industry has shown steady growth since 2012 – a trend that is expected to continue. An expanding market leads to more competition, driving down prices and making dental implants more accessible.
It also means an increase in research and development. Though modern dental implant procedures have been around for more than 50 years, advances in technology have made the process faster, with shorter recovery time and more durable, longer-lasting results. Pre-surgery tools like 3D digital imaging and surgical-planning software make implant placement more precise and efficient. State-of-the-art computer-aided design and manufacturing can create exact replicas of your teeth. And an innovative antibacterial dental-implant coating is emerging to help ward off infection.
Time and costs vary depending on your individual circumstances, including oral and general health, how many teeth need replacing and where they are located (back teeth can be more expensive). Though the initial cost of dental implants is higher than dentures and bridges, insurance companies are recognizing the long-term value of implants. With an estimated 5 million implants placed each year in the United States alone, more insurers are beginning to offer some coverage.
If your insurance does not cover dental implants, ask if they might offer an amount equal to dentures or a bridge. If you have a private Medicare health plan, check to see what they offer. And always ask the implant dentist’s office about financing options and payment plans.
You’ve earned the right to enjoy your golden years, from dinner with friends to visiting the grandkids, celebrating your anniversary or taking that dream vacation. Get your smile back, and get back in the game. With dental implants, you’ll look – and feel – like a million without spending a fortune.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/dental-implant-surgery/about/pac-20384622 and https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475