My mom recently had a consultation for all-on-4 dental implants. She’s 76, and I usually go to all her visits with her. For some reason she booked this appointment herself and had a friend take her. She’s been complaining about her denture for some time now, and I’ve tried to explain to her that dentures aren’t like her old teeth. They will always be somewhat uncomfortable, but guess because she’s had this set for 15 years or so now, she wants to move onto something different.
In any case, I’m at least a little familiar with the process because I had one dental implant done two years ago. I’m happy with it, but I’m also in my 50s and am more tolerant to procedures and heal better. I’m worried my mom won’t do quite as well. Also, although my mom is in really good health for her age, she’s still getting up there.
I’m not sure this is going to be a good investment. Actually, I’m worried that it might diminish her quality of life. Obviously, it’s her mouth and she gets the final say. The doctor she saw told her she was a candidate for this, but I wasn’t there. I really doubt that he was looking out for her best interests. Is she really a candidate for All-on-4 dental implants, or should I try to convince her to stick with regular dentures?
Although you might feel your mom’s current dentures are sufficient, consider her reasons for her exploring her options, including All-on-4 dental implants. Your mom has an older denture that isn’t working for her.
A Patient’s Perspective
It probably goes without saying, but having teeth that function well, look good, and feel good are the foundation of eating well and keeping helping her feel confident. Teeth that aren’t functional would reduce her quality of life. So if she’s uncomfortable, or if her current dentures aren’t any good, she needs a better solution.
Additionally her jawbone has likely been shrinking, so dentures won’t fit well. A more conservative approach would be to see if the dentures can be relined. If so, they’ll feel better, and the function will improve. If they can’t be relined, she needs new dentures. No one should have to live with uncomfortable dentures.
Is There An Age Limit for All-on-4 Dental Implants?
So is your mom really a candidate for All-on-4 dental implants? Here’s what we know:
1) The oldest patient on record to undergo dental implant surgery was 100-years-old. Her surgery was performed in December 2012. The surgery was successful.
2) Studies have shown that “dental implants and implant-retained and/or implant-supported prostheses are viable treatment options for older patients,” although doctors must understand how caring for an older patient is different than caring for a younger one.
3) Another study that tracked 133 patients who were at least 80-years-old concluded “Implant treatment in the elderly patients showed treatment results comparable to those observed in younger age groups.”
In other words, your mom may be a perfect candidate. And if it’s within her means to have treatment, it could improve her quality of life, because she’ll eat better and feel better about herself.
Consult with an Implant Dentist
If you’re still unsure about the process, ask her if it’s okay if you talk to the dentist she saw. Due to patient confidentiality guidelines, he may require that she sign a waiver giving him permission to talk to you. He is the best one to talk to you about her specific risk factors and why he thinks she’s a good candidate.
You can do some homework to ensure the dentist is experienced and highly trained in implantology. You can also get a second opinion from a prosthodontist if it will give you more peace of mind. In any case, her age is not a factor.
This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist and board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.