Can Dental Implants Save Your Life?

The surprising facts about tooth replacement and lifespan

With their natural look and feel, dental implants truly have the power to change and improve the lives of patients with missing teeth. The ability to smile, talk and eat with confidence again really can be trans formative. Now, it has been revealed that implants not only have the power to make life better, but to make it longer.

The data comes from the National Institutes of Health, following a long-term study comparing the life spans of various groups of seniors. The study found that the patients who either kept most of their natural teeth or had any teeth that were missing replaced with dental implants or fixed bridges enjoyed longer lives than patients who replaced missing teeth with partials or removable dentures.

The results were startling. The patients with natural teeth and implants lived an average of 9.8 years longer than the patients with dentures. Meaning the simple act of wearing dentures – something seniors have been doing for generations – can cut a life short by almost 10 years.

What’s responsible for this disparity in lifespan?

It all comes down to food.

Countless medical studies have shown that eating the right kind of foods – foods like whole grains, lean meats and plenty of fruits and vegetables – is essential to staying healthy. A proper diet can do everything from staving off cancer, diabetes and heart disease to simply providing the calories and nutrition necessary to live.

The trouble for denture wearers is that the healthiest foods are foods that are closest to their natural, unprocessed state. And those foods – especially fruits and vegetables — are likely to require more chewing. For some seniors, the basic act of eating is so difficult that they don’t eat enough food of any kind, regardless of quality.

The reason is bite force. Natural teeth typically have a bite force of between 150 and 250 psi. And while the term psi might not mean anything to the average reader, the fact that a denture wearer’s top bite force is only 50 psi should illustrate to anyone just how large the difference is. The strength to chew just isn’t there.

That means those denture wearers who have trouble skip the raw fruits and vegetables their bodies need to stay healthy. Some may eat less in general. And for some, the food they do chew sometimes isn’t broken down enough, causing gastro-intestinal issues and even trouble swallowing.

The result is a lower quality – and even quantity – of life.

The good news is that deterioration in bite strength can be reversed. Dental implants have the power to restore bite force and bring back the ability to eat those healthy foods. So that seniors (and others) who have suffered tooth loss can eat the foods they need to enjoy long and healthy lives.