Gaps in your smile aren't just a cosmetic issue. Missing teeth can make it more difficult to eat certain foods, which can affect your diet and nutrition. That's why dentists always recommend replacing a lost tooth to fill the gap and help restore the appearance and function of your smile.
If you're missing one or more teeth, your dentist may recommend dental implants. Unlike other teeth replacement options, an implant replaces the entire tooth down to the root. It can be covered by a permanent crown or removable denture.
Dental implants usually last longer than other tooth replacement options and have a high success rate, but not everyone is eligible for the treatment. Your dentist can tell you if you're a candidate for implants during your consultation, or they may recommend another option.
Age isn't a barrier – only for the young
There's no upper age limit for dental implants. In fact, as older people tend to have lost more teeth through decay, gum disease or accidents, most people who choose dental implants are seniors.
Age itself is only a factor for adolescent patients whose jaws may still be developing. This can make implants more likely to fail and need to be reimplanted, which is why implants are usually restricted below the age of 18.
Studies of aged patients receiving dental implants have shown excellent survival rates for implants over a number of years when good oral health is maintained, with excellent quality of life scores.
Who is eligible for implants?
To determine whether you're a suitable candidate for dental implants, your dentist will perform a comprehensive oral health assessment and take x-rays to check that your jaw is capable of supporting an implant. They also need to know your medical history and details of any health conditions you might have.
You may not be suitable for implant treatment if: 
- you have untreated tooth decay or gum disease
- your jaw is too thin to accommodate an implant
- you have a health condition such as uncontrolled diabetes, a blood clotting disorder, bone disease or immune system deficiency
- you smoke
Some of these factors can be controlled to improve your chance of implant success. If you have a small jaw, a bone grafting procedure may be carried out to increase its density, although this is a complex procedure that has its own set of risk factors. Giving up smoking can also improve healing after implant treatment and lower your risk of complications.
What are the risks of dental implants?
If you meet the criteria for dental implants, complications are rare, but your dentist will still make sure you know the possible risks. These can include infection, injury to the surrounding teeth, nerves or blood vessels and sinus problems.
It's normal to have some minor pain, swelling or bruising after the treatment. Your dentist will advise that you eat soft foods while your mouth is healing.
What are the alternatives to implants?
If you find out that you're not a candidate for implants, or you don't think the treatment is right for you, your dentist can discuss other options. These may include a dental bridge to replace one or more teeth or dentures to replace several teeth or all of your teeth.
Looking for a dentist in Sydney CBD?
Find out more about dental implants and other tooth replacement options by arranging a consultation at Sydney CBD Dental.
 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW): Chrisopoulos S, Harford JE & Ellershaw A 2016. Oral health and dental care in Australia: key facts and figures 2015. Cat. no. DEN 229. Canberra: AIHW.
 Healthdirect. Dental implants [Online] 2017 [Accessed August 2018] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dental-implant
 Shah, R. A., Mitra, D. K., Rodrigues, S. V., Pathare, P. N., Podar, R. S., & Vijayakar, H. N. (2013). Implants in adolescents. Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, 17(4), 546–548. [Accessed August 2018] Available from: http://doi.org/10.4103/0972-124X.118335
 William Becker, Philippe Hujoel, Burton E. Becker, Peter Wohrle. Dental Implants in an Aged Population: Evaluation of Periodontal Health, Bone Loss, Implant Survival, and Quality of Life in Clinical Implant Dentistry and Related Research. 2016 Jun; 18(3): 473–479. Published online 2015 Jun 17. [Accessed August 2018] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26082299
 European Federation of Periodontology (EFP). Dental Implants