July 2019

how old is too old for dental implants 62a211d6241c8

How Old Is Too Old for Dental Implants?

Advances in Dental Technology

Thanks to today’s advances in dental technology, we can replace missing teeth with implants for a smile that looks healthy, natural, and complete. If you’re worried that you’re too old for dental implants, good news! While younger patients must wait until their jaw bones are completely developed before implant surgery, there is no upper age limit for dental implants.

In fact, studies have shown that patients aged 65 and over have high rates of successful implantation, long-term implant retention, and minimal complications. Of course, as our bodies age, there are changes that take place. And some of these changes can make an implant procedure more challenging.

Fortunately, oral surgeons like Dr. Bentz have the training, experience, and advanced techniques to make implants possible even in challenging circumstances. Two important concerns for older patients are bone density and healing ability. What can Dr. Bentz do to address these concerns?

Bone Grafting

A complete tooth replacement consists of an implant that serves as a “root” to anchor the tooth in the bone, an abutment that is secured in the implant and extends above the gum line, and a crown restoration that is attached to the abutment.

Dr. Bentz will drill a small hole in the jawbone for the implant and carefully place it in position in the jaw. Over a period of months, this implant will become integrated into the bone just like a natural root. You can see why one of the most important requirements for a successful implant is having enough healthy bone in which to anchor it.

But after losing a tooth, the bone under the missing tooth gradually shrinks without the pressure and stimulation of chewing. As time passes, more bone loss occurs.

If there is not enough bone size and density to support an implant, you can still regain the structure you need for success with surgical bone grafting. This is a type of surgery which uses your own bone, a synthetic grafting material, or a processed bone grafting material to repair and replace damaged bone. After approximately three to four months of healing, the jawbone has recovered enough volume and density to accept an implant.

And one wonderful bonus? An implant gives your jawbone the same pressure and stimulation that your natural tooth did, preventing future bone loss.

PRP Treatment

One consequence of aging is that older bones simply don’t heal as rapidly as younger bones. If this is a concern for you, an encouraging new treatment for implants in older patients is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP). This plasma is rich in platelet growth factors and has shown promising results in bone and tissue regeneration as well as faster healing.

After drawing a small amount of your own blood, the blood is immediately centrifuged to separate and collect the platelet-rich plasma. This plasma is then mixed with bone grafting material. And, because the PRP is composed of your own blood cells and plasma, there is no chance of rejection, reaction, or disease transmission.

If you have any concerns about your age, the implant procedure, bone health, healing time, or any other issue, talk to Dr. Bentz.

After all, as oral surgeons, we are specialists. We have a minimum of four years of surgical education and training in a hospital-based residency program. We train with medical residents in advanced studies, which include general surgery, anesthesiology, internal medicine, plastic surgery, and otolaryngology (the study of the ear, nose, and throat). We are experts not only in implant procedures, but in adapting procedures successfully for your individual needs.

There is nothing like the look and feel of a natural smile. Make an appointment at our East Norriton, PA office to talk about dental implants. After all, a healthy, attractive smile is something we deserve at any age.

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Eating Wisely After Wisdom Tooth Extraction

If wisdom tooth extraction is on your calendar, it’s a good idea to visit your grocery store ahead of time to stock up on smart diet options for post-surgery meals. It might be a few weeks before you heal completely, so we have some shopping list suggestions which are safe, soothing, and nutritious to get you through your recovery.

Smart Choices

Soft, Smooth, and Creamy

  • Soft-serve ice cream
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Yogurt
  • Pudding

Now is a good time to indulge yourself, and ice cream, yogurt, and pudding are easy on sensitive tissue and filled with protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Just remember—choose soft flavors with no crunchy, sticky, or chewy additions. This means no cones, as well. Most important? Nothing with a straw. Suction can cause the dislodgement of the protective clot over your extraction site. And dislodgement of this protective cover can lead to a painful condition known as dry socket.

Sometimes we recommend a wait on milk products immediately after surgery due to anesthesia, medication, or other considerations—we’ll let you know if that’s the case, and when you can safely enjoy dairy products.

Comfort(able) Foods

  • Broth
  • Pureed soups
  • Applesauce
  • Gelatin desserts
  • Clear liquids

Foods that don’t require much chewing won’t irritate tender mouth and gum tissue. You can also find a wide variety of flavors to tempt your palate. Choose broths with higher concentrations of protein, and soups which provide minerals and vitamins. Nothing too hot, though—heat can affect the protective clot over the wound site. Applesauce is not only soothing and flavorful, but is a good source of fiber and vitamin C. Gelatin desserts and clear liquids will help you keep hydrated, which is extremely important as you heal.

Blender-Friendly Creations

  • Smoothies
  • Pureed foods

Want to get creative in the kitchen? Create your own smoothies and purees to suit your individual taste! Blended foods are easy to eat, and you can add vitamins with your choice of fruits and vegetables and proteins or protein powder for nutritional value. (Sip or eat smoothies with a spoon, as straws are still off-limits.)

You can gradually add semi-solid foods such as mashed potatoes, oatmeal, cottage cheese, and scrambled eggs as you recover. Don’t worry—we’ll give you aftercare instructions that will include what you should be eating and drinking right after surgery, and what you can add to your diet as you heal.

Unwise Diet Selections

It wouldn’t be sensible to leave you without some idea of which foods to avoid for the next few weeks. Talk to us about how and when to re-introduce these items to your diet.

  • Grainy, seedy, or crunchy foods, which become tiny particles as you chew, can lodge in the surgical site.
  • Spicy, carbonated, and acidic foods can irritate delicate gum tissue.
  • Sticky and chewy foods can be hard on the extraction side.
  • Hot beverages can interfere with the protective clot that forms over the wound.
  • Alcohol can interact with medications and, according to several studies, potentially slow healing.
  • Anything that requires a straw. Any kind of suction risks dislodging the protective clot at the surgical site. Eat your milkshake with a spoon—it’s still delicious!—and absolutely no cigarettes.

And one final word to the wise: seeing Dr. Bentz for wisdom teeth extraction and follow-up is an excellent idea!

Oral surgeons like Dr. Bentz have a minimum of four years of advanced studies in a hospital-based residency program, where they train with medical residents in the fields of general surgery, anesthesiology, internal medicine, and other specialties with a specific focus on the anatomy of the face, mouth, and jaw. They are uniquely qualified to make sure your wisdom tooth extraction and healing are successful.

If you have any questions about the procedure, and what you can do at home to help the healing process, give our East Norriton, PA office a call. We want to help you make the wisest choices for diet, pain relief, wound care, and all of your other aftercare needs.

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PREVENT DRY SOCKET AFTER ORAL SURGERY

When you have a tooth extracted, your body immediately sets to work to help protect the affected area. The blood that collects at the site of the extraction clots to cover and protect the wound. This is a normal response, and protects the nerves and bone that have been exposed with the removal of your tooth. Normally, the gum tissue will close over the area within a few weeks.

But sometimes the clot becomes dislodged or dissolved before you have a chance to heal. This condition is known as “alveolar osteitis,” or dry socket. Sensitive nerves and bone in the extraction site are exposed to air and outside substances causing intense pain. Bacteria and food particles can also contaminate the wound and lead to pain and infection in the area around the socket.

There are certain activities that should definitely be avoided to reduce the risk of dry socket.

  • Straws and suction

The action of using a straw causes suction that can dislodge the clot. You can still enjoy the soothing coolness of a milkshake, but use a spoon.

  • Spitting

You might be tempted to rinse and spit immediately to clean your mouth, but spitting can also dislodge the clot. We will let you know how to clean your mouth and teeth for the next few days.

  • Smoking

Not only does smoking provide a suction effect that can remove the clot, but smoking and chewing tobacco can slow healing as well.

There are also steps you can take to aid the healing process.

  • Caring for your extraction site

We’ll give you instructions on caring for your mouth and teeth for the next few days. Gentle care for the extraction site is vital. And treat yourself gently as well. Rest if you need to, and avoid activities that might impact your wound.

  • Choose your beverages carefully

Hot drinks can loosen the clot protecting the wounded area, and alcohol, caffeine, and carbonation also put your healing at risk. Water is a safe choice not only for healing, but for keeping hydrated.

  • Think about your diet

Stick to soft foods for the first day or so and chew on the side opposite your extraction site. Foods which can lodge in the teeth, like peanuts, popcorn, nuts, and seeds, should be avoided completely.

  • Watch for symptoms of dry socket

How do you know if you have a dry socket? Monitor your pain and the appearance of the site after the extraction. For the first few days, you might feel some pain in the immediate area. Pain that intensifies after three or four days is usually not a result of the extraction. An unpleasant odor or taste in your mouth could be a sign of dry socket. You might look in the mirror and notice that the clot is no longer there, or appears to have been dislodged. If any of these symptoms occur, call East Norriton, PA at once. If you are experiencing dry socket, the extraction site will need to be cleaned and protected from further injury.

Dry socket is a relatively rare occurrence, but if you have any symptoms that concern you, we want to hear about them. Dr. Bentz will work with you to make your extraction treatment go as smoothly as possible. Talk to us about your concerns before any oral surgery, and we will provide detailed information for the procedure and for the healing process afterward. Keep us in the loop as you recuperate, and we will work together to make your recovery a speedy one.

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2601 Dekalb Pike
East Norriton, PA 19401

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Tuesday 7:30am - 5pm
Wednesday 8am - 5:30pm
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610-272-6949

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