If you're an older adult, or you provide care for a parent or other senior, you might feel that dental implants aren't a good solution for older mouths. But does age really matter when it comes to installing dental implants?

Dentists are discovering that age is not a deciding factor when it comes to the dental implant procedure. Implants in seniors are actually especially useful because they can be done to more securely hold dentures in place as well as to replace individual teeth. 

Is Any Age Too Old for Implants?

The oldest implant recipient is a 100-year-old woman in Florida, who had four implants installed in 2012. The Florida woman went on to have success with the implants as she is now 103 and still going strong.

For most senior patients, if they are healthy enough to undergo the local anesthesia and don't have any diseases or take any medications that could lead to increased bleeding or failure to heal properly, the implant process is definitely possible.

What Age-Related Conditions May Cause Implant Failure?

There are some illnesses or conditions that often accompany old age and could contraindicate dental implants. These include:

However, patients with these issues have had long-term success with dental implants, so they don't necessarily rule out the option of implants.

Will Bone Grow Around the Implants in an Older Patient?

The key to a successful implant surgery is that the patient's bone will grow around and integrate the implant screw, which is typically made of titanium. However, nearly 54 million adults in the U.S. over age 50 show some sign of osteoporosis, or bone density loss, in the neck and spine.

The good news is that bone density in the jaw may be able to stay the same or increase with regular exercise, such as chewing. If patients lose their teeth and reduce their chewing activity, the jaw is more likely to weaken. So if there is sufficient bone in place to install an implant, a patient is likely to retain the same amount of bone or increase it slightly even if density elsewhere in the body is decreasing. 

In addition, failure rates in one study were found to be higher when bone loss and a short jaw shape were combined, but only 3 percent of the patients in the study had both issues. Bone loss alone did not necessarily indicate a higher failure rate.

Talk to your dentist or oral surgeon about the possibility of successfully having dental implants. You may find that your age is not a factor in their success rate, especially if you are in otherwise good health.