Anyone who checked out our blog on dentures versus dental implants, knows that dental implants are, by far, better than dentures. Implants cost more, but the cost is offset by dental implants’ much more efficient functionality. Not only that, but over time dentures degrade while dental implants can last a lifetime with minimal care and upkeep.
Although dental implants are superior to dentures, most senior citizens in the United States continue to favor dentures over dental implants. There are various reasons why. Keep reading for a deeper dive into dental implants and senior citizens.
Dental Implants & Seniors: The Who, What, When, and Where
The age at which a person is considered a senior citizen in the United States is 65. At the age of 65, U.S. citizens automatically become senior citizens. Senior citizens are also called either “elderly”, or simply “seniors”. You can read more about the United States’ senior citizen designation on Senior Living.
Is There a Dental Implants Age Limit?
What a senior citizen can or can’t do doesn’t depend on age. Age is no factor. For example, if a senior citizen wishes to go skydiving or scuba diving, they can. Age doesn’t mean much. Whether or not a senior citizen can get dental implants has nothing to do with age.
The factors regarding the ability to get dental implants has to do with the health of gums, bone, and the recovery time for seniors. Seniors that don’t have healthy gum or jawbone, or has a history of long recovery times, might not be a good candidate for dental implants.
Also, many seniors have either diabetes or Alzheimer’s. Some elderly have both. Senior citizens with either diabetes or Alzheimer’s or both are not good candidates for dental implants. Seniors with any form of dementia, not just Alzheimer’s, aren’t good candidates for dental implants.
When Can Seniors Get Dental Implants?
The qualifications for seniors to get dental implants are the same for non-senior citizens. The only difference between seniors and non-seniors is age. We’ve already established that age has nothing to do with candidacy for dental implants. See below for what makes everyone, including seniors, good candidates for dental implants:
- Strong jawbone – Implants are affixed directly into jawbone. Candidates for dental implants must have strong jawbone. Without strong jawbone, patients cannot get dental implants.
- Healthy gums – By healthy gums, we mean gums that don’t have soft tissue.
- Overall good health – Overall good health is a must for those looking to get dental implants. Dental implant surgery is invasive. It requires drilling into jawbone. It also requires overall good health so that the bone and gums correctly heal.
Many seniors qualify for dental implants. The bone in their jaws are strong, their gums are healthy, and they have overall decent health. Again, age has nothing to do with it.
Even if seniors don’t have strong jawbone, some might be able to get a bone graft. A bone graft strengthens the jawbone to prepare it for dental implant surgery. If seniors don’t turn out to be good candidates for dental implants, all hope isn’t lost. Those seniors might be able to get mini-dental implants instead.
Mini-Dental Implants: Perfect for Some People
Mini-dental implants can be used in place of dental implants. Although not nearly as popular, nor long-lasting as dental implants, mini implant surgery is less invasive than dental implant surgery. Mini-dental implants might be perfect for seniors who don’t want to go through, or can’t go through, either the dental implant procedure itself, or pre-dental implant procedures such as sinus lifts or bone grafts.
Mini-dental implants are placed directly into the gums. They aren’t placed into the jawbone, which is why for many seniors they’re the perfect implant of choice. The qualifications for mini-dental implants are the same as dental implants.
Candidates mustn’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess. They must have overall good health for the recovery period. Alzheimer’s patients and those with diabetes are not good candidates for either dental implant or mini-dental implant procedures.
Checkout our blog on mini-dental implants for more information about this implant option geared towards senior citizens.
Dental Implant Costs for Low-Income Seniors
Most dental insurance in the United States doesn’t cover cosmetic dentistry. Dental implants, full or mini, are considered cosmetic. The thinking from insurance companies in the U.S. is that unless it solves a necessary issue, it’s cosmetic. Although dental implants provide much more than just cosmetic benefits, they remain in the cosmetic category.
All seniors are eligible for Medicaid and Medicare once they turn 65. Purchasing dental insurance through Medicare is virtually impossible. Purchasing it through Medicaid is easier. Dental insurance through Medicaid will only cover necessary procedures.
In other words, if the procedure is required for the health of the patient, Medicaid (and Medicare for that matter) will cover it. The patient nor the patient’s dentist or doctor, really, decide what procedures are necessary from those that aren’t. The insurance companies are often the ones that decide if a procedure is necessary. It’s difficult to make the case that dental implants are necessary.
In reality, dental implants are almost never considered necessary procedures. They could under some circumstance. If senior citizens can take care of the issue via less costly dentures, then, almost without fail, dental insurance will go for the cheaper route.
Because of dental insurance in the U.S., senior citizens are finding it extremely difficult to get invasive procedures like dental implants. Check out our Oral Health Reality in the U.S. blog for more information on dental insurance in the United States.
Not surprisingly, it comes down to cost. When insurance doesn’t cover the cost of something, the patient must pick up the cost. It doesn’t matter whether that patient is a senior citizen or not. Senior citizens deal with the same cost issue as other individuals in U.S. society.
Insurance won’t cover dental implants unless they’re necessary. Since dental implants are considered cosmetic, they’re almost never necessary. Therefore, only people in the United States, including senior citizens who can afford the cost of dental implants, will get dental implants.
Seniors Can Get Their Dental Implants in Costa Rica. Let Care Overseas Help!
Luckily, there’s a solution. Costa Rican dental clinics and dentists are just as comfortable installing dental implants for seniors as they are for anyone else. Senior citizens can fly to Costa Rica and get dental implants for much less than what it could cost them in the United States. While in Costa Rica, they can partake in various tourist activities and make a vacation out of it.
Care Overseas believes that all people should have access to affordable, high-quality, dental care. Their goal is to hand hold Canadian and U.S. citizens through the entire process: from finding the right dentist to setting up their stay in Costa Rica. Care Overseas can especially help senior citizens who aren’t as familiar with dental tourism, or the qualifications of dental clinics and dentists in Costa Rica.
Seniors and their family should head to Care Overseas now and get a quote from the Flikier Dental Institute or DDS Dental. They can also call us at 866-778-2766 and we will walk them through the process. Dental care shouldn’t be stressful. Let Care Overseas help!