Dental implants are an excellent dental treatment option for replacing missing teeth. This tooth loss replacement treatment has a high success rate, and implant failure due to rejection or functionality is rare. However, pre-existing medical conditions like gum disease and others can cause an implant to fail.
People consider a dental implant since it looks and behaves like a natural tooth. However, the most common question in people’s minds is how long does a dental implant last? If the proper care is taken, your implant can last a lifetime. Of course, other factors play a crucial role in determining how long your implant lasts. This can include your lifestyle and oral hygiene practices.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are made of titanium which is a biocompatible material that is readily accepted by the body. The titanium artificial tooth root is placed into the jawbone during dental implant surgery. The titanium root is firmly held in place through a process called osseointegration. This process is where your natural bone fuses with the metal post of the implant. This is why implants can provide the same stability and strength as real teeth.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last
How long your dental implant lasts will depend on certain factors. However, the fact that dental implants are made from titanium and that titanium post fuses with the jawbone can lead them to potentially last a lifetime. Dental implants are a permanent solution to replace missing teeth. However, the visible part of the teeth called a restoration, whether a dental crown, dental bridge or partial or complete denture, will need to be replaced after some time.
Your oral practices
A proper dental care routine that includes brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist can extend the lifespan of your implant.
How you use your teeth
If you constantly chew and bite on hard foods or open crown corks with your teeth will negatively impact the lifespan of the implant.
The skills of the oral surgeon
An implant surgery performed by a well-trained and experienced dentist can lead to the implant lasting you a lifetime. This is because the dentist will create a personalised treatment plan specific to your case. They will know how to place the implant, evaluate the osseointegration process and determine if the implant has successfully bonded with the jawbone.
Location of the implant
Where the implant is placed in the mouth also determines its lifespan. Implants placed at the back of the mouth receive more pressure from chewing than those located at the front of the mouth. This is why implants located in the back of the mouth may fail faster than those in the front.
Heavy drinkers and smokers are at a higher risk for dental implant failure than those who do not drink or smoke. If you do drink or smoke, you should refrain from doing so if you want your implant to last as long as possible.
How Often Do Dental Implants Have To Be Replaced?
While implants can last a lifetime, implants may fail and need to be replaced in some cases. The replacement time is anywhere between 25 to 30 years. However,implant-supported crowns may need to be replaced every 15 years or so. Implant-supported bridges are replaced every 5 to 15 years, and implant-supported dentures will need to be replaced every five to eight years. Dentures may also require regular adjustments to fit properly if you suffer from bone resorption in the jaw.
How To Look After Dental Implants
- Use a soft nylon brush with pliable bristles to clean your dental implant and original teeth. You can also use a proxabrush the clean the hard to reach areas around the dental implant.
- Flossing helps to remove the plaque that accumulates around the implants promoting good oral health. However, plaque buildup can lead to periodontal diseases, aka gum disease and other oral hygiene issues.
- Schedule regular visits to the dentist since you can be suffering from other dental hygiene issues that you may not be aware of. In these scheduled visits, the dentist can check to see how your implant performs and identify any other issues with your real teeth or gum and provide solutions.
- Try to avoid sticky and hard foods like hard candies, caramel and others that can damage your implant. These foods can also damage the healthy surrounding teeth.
- Do not drink or smoke because they can slow down the healing process, prolong treatment time, or cause the implant to fail.
Who Is Not Suitable For Dental Implants
Patients who are not suitable for dental implant treatment include those suffering from medical conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes, blood clotting disorders, cancer and others. Other patients include young people under the age of 18 since their bone tissue is fully developed. The dentist you visit will be able to tell you if a dental implant is the right solution for you after the initial consultation.
Dental Implants Alternatives
If dental implants aren’t for you because of a medical condition or other reasons, here are some dental implants alternatives.
Full mouth dentures
Full mouth dentures are a great choice if you are missing all of your teeth. When wearing your dentures, it will look like you have all of your teeth. However, they don’t allow you to chew or bite effectively as you would with dental implants, so they may come with a few diet restrictions.
You can opt for partial dentures if you still have missing teeth and some healthy teeth remaining in your mouth. Teeth on partial dentures are attached to the plastic base that matches the colour of your gums for a more natural look.
Unlike full or partial dentures, fixed bridges get fixed in place. Dentists use a bonding agent to install the bridge, which they can only remove. Fixed bridges can function like natural teeth since they are securely held in place.
Are Dental Implants Worth It?
Dental implants are worth it if you take proper care of them. While they may initially seem more expensive than dentures, they are a cost-effective option in the long run because dentures may need replacing every 5-10 years.
Not only do teeth implants last longer than any other tooth-replacement option, but they restore the functions and aesthetics of natural teeth.
Dental implants restore the basic functionalities of natural teeth to improve your quality of life. They can last a lifetime and do not require any major care. An oral health care routine including brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly can help extend your implant’s life.