Realistically, nothing lasts forever. But when a patient takes good care of their implants, they have the potential to last for several decades.
Dental implants revolutionised the world of dentistry by becoming the only method of tooth replacement that replaces the entire tooth structure.
During dental implant surgery, a surgeon or experienced implant dentist places a titanium post into the jawbone at the site of the missing tooth socket. Over time, the surrounding bone grows around the implant to provide support. This process is known as osseointegration, and once it has occurred successfully, the implant is strong enough to support a dental crown, bridge or denture.
So, are dental implants permanent?
Well, yes and no. Because implants fuse with the jawbone, then technically, yes, dental implants are permanent. But, they aren’t always permanent in terms of longevity and can fail weeks, months, even years after dental implant surgery. When we say ‘fail,’ we are referring to the fact that they can loosen and fall out of their own accord or need to be removed by a dentist.
It helps to know that a dental implant consists of 3 parts:
- The implant post – which acts as an artificial tooth root
- The abutment – this connects the prosthetic tooth to the post
- The dental crown – this is the visible false tooth that sits above the gums
The biocompatible titanium implant post sits below the gumline out of view and can last a patient’s lifetime. It is super-strong and also resistant to corrosion.
The other elements – the abutment and porcelain crown – are more susceptible to wear and deterioration. The dental crown will likely need replacing between 10 and 15 years, which depending on your age when you get a dental implant, may mean it needs replacing one or more times.
While there are other alternatives for replacing missing teeth, such as a denture or bridge, it’s worth highlighting two of the main benefits of dental implants as well as focusing just on how long implants last.
Benefits of dental implants
- Restores bite force – remember we said earlier that dental implants are permanent because they are implanted into the jawbone? Because of this, implants can withstand biting and chewing without slipping or sliding, as dentures often do.
- Helps prevent bone loss – besides replacing missing teeth, implants help prevent the bone loss that take a place when a tooth is missing. The implant post acts as an artificial tooth root, stimulating the bone to keep it healthy and dense.
So, how long do dental implants really last?
We’ve all read countless times that implants can last for several decades, and in many cases, this is true.
However, this all depends on how well you care for them.
Several factors affect the longevity of dental implants:
- The experience of the dentist – When getting a dental implant, you should always seek the services of an experienced implant dentist or oral surgeon. Ask how regularly they perform dental implant surgery and how many implants they have placed during their career. An experienced dentist will know if osseointegration has happened successfully before moving on to the next stage of the procedure.
- Oral hygiene – Implants look, function, and feel like natural teeth, and, more importantly, they need to be cared for in the same way. This includes brushing them twice daily and flossing once combined with regular dental check-ups and cleans. Good oral hygiene is paramount to the longevity of implants and is especially critical following dental implant surgery to prevent infection or disease.
- Location of the implant – The longevity of your implant can also be affected by its position in the mouth. For example, an implant that has replaced a molar at the back of your teeth will need to withstand more pressure from chewing than a front implant.
- Health and lifestyle – Smokers are more at risk of implant failure than non-smokers. Tobacco and nicotine cause blood vessels to constrict or narrow in the gum tissues, slowing the healing process or preventing osseointegration.
Why do implants fail?
As previously mentioned, patients can help their implants last for years with the appropriate level of care. However, other factors can cause implant failure. Patients who have rheumatoid arthritis or uncontrolled diabetes have a higher chance of implant failure.
Failing to remain on top of your oral hygiene can also cause implant failure. Although implants can’t fall foul of decay like natural teeth, they are particularly vulnerable to gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can escalate to a more severe condition – peri-implantitis. This disease can lead to gum recession and bone loss, whereby the implant may become loose and fall out. Preventing gum disease in the first place can help your implants last longer.
Dental implants are a permanent fixture in the mouth, and if you take good care of them, they will serve you well for many years to come.
If you would like to learn more about dental implants and find out if they are a suitable treatment for you, why not get in touch with the friendly, experienced team at DDSS/DDII.
We provide digital dental implants utilising the latest techniques, and technologies, and top name brands. Patients benefit from shorter, more comfortable, and more accurate dental implant surgery promoting speedy recovery and a successful outcome.
Why not contact us today to schedule a free implant consultation.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.