Minimum Age or Age Restriction for Dental Implants

The American Dental Association reports that more than half of adults over the age of 65 are missing at least one natural tooth. For many people who have lost any or all of their natural teeth, dental implants are the optimal treatment, providing a natural-looking, sturdy, durable replacement solution that could last a lifetime. There’s no definitive upper age limit for dental implants, and many elderly patients who are in good overall health can safely receive dental implants. For younger patients who seek to replace a missing tooth, however, dental implants may or may not be recommended; for these patients, doctors must first assess the skeletal development, ensuring that the bones have fully formed before safely placing implants. While the general lower age limit for dental implants is 18, ultimately, the decision about whether dental implants would be a safe, effective option is based more on the maturity and stability of the bones than the age of the patient.

In addition to skeletal development, dental implant teams will assess the circumstances surrounding the loss of the natural tooth. Adolescents and younger adults tend to lose teeth because of accidents or impact more than older adults, while older adults are more likely to lose teeth because of advanced gum disease or tooth decay. Each of the causes for lost teeth must be addressed individually, and dental implant teams will also determine the location and number of teeth missing and evaluate the integrity of the jawbone before going forward with dental implant treatment. In some cases, this can mean that preliminary procedures like bone grafts are needed before implants are an option. Comprehensive dental x-rays help dentists determine these conditions during treatment consultation.

Jaw development is also assessed with x-rays for younger patients, whose bones must be adequately developed before implants can be placed. This means that the patient is no longer experiencing growth spurts and that their skeleton has reached maturity. If dental implants were to be placed while the bone is still maturing, the implants can impede bone development and increase the risk of complications like problems with the bite, gaps or spaces between the teeth, loss of bone around the dental implant, and even visible changes to the shape of the face. Skeletal growth usually subsides between the ages of 18 and 20, though there are patients who are in their mid-20s when they reach skeletal maturity. This underscores the importance of thorough evaluation using x-rays and clinical growth assessments to gauge whether a patient is old enough to receive dental implants. For patients who are determined to be too young to receive dental implants, interim dental replacement options like removable bridges and partial dentures can help restore the appearance and function of the teeth until the bones reach maturity and implants can be safely placed. Once they are placed, with the proper care, dental implants can help young adults maintain a healthy diet and a confident smile well into adulthood, and most patients consider them well worth the wait.

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