Lifespan of a Dental Implant

One question most people want to know when evaluating dental implants is how long the devices last. This is a logical concern and typically plays an important role in determining if dental implants are more suitable than other restoration options.
It often comes as a surprise to patients when they learn that with proper care, the lifespan of dental implants can be 25 or more years. This article will discuss the advantages dental implants offer as well as steps that can be taken to maximize the longevity of the devices.

Dental Implants: An Overview

Designed to look, function, and feel like natural teeth, dental implants offer a versatile, durable, and more appealing restoration option for patients that need to replace one or more teeth. A permanent restoration, dental implants are surgically embedded into the patient’s jawbone. Once the restorations are securely in place, patients can maintain dental implants the same as they would natural teeth.

Dental implants typically consist of three components:
* Implant: Typically made of titanium, the small posts or rods that are embedded directly into the jawbone. The implant posts extend up through the gumline and function as replacement tooth roots.
* Abutment: A connector piece that screws on top of the implant. The abutment lays above the gumline and function as the base upon which a restorative crown will be mounted.
* Crown: The false replacement tooth that connects to the abutment. Crowns are frequently made of porcelain and can be customized for a patient’s specific requirements.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Placing Dental Implants

Using dental implants to replace missing teeth offers numerous advantages that typically far outweigh the drawbacks. Any drawbacks are generally attributable to side effects that can differ depending on which type of dental implant is used.
Some of the benefits dental implants offer include:
* Physical appearance improvements – can provide a boost to self-confidence
* Improved speaking ability when compared to missing teeth
* More comfortable than missing teeth, dental bridges, or traditional dentures
* Makes eating easier and eliminates any dietary restrictions
* Oral health is improved
* Long-term effectiveness and durability
* More convenient when compared to other restoration options

Some potential disadvantages associated with dental implants include:
* Although rare, an implant can be improperly placed which increases the risk of failure
* Because surgery is necessary to place implants, infections and bleeding might occur
* An implant could loosen and begin to wiggle
* Certain at-risk populations may experience greater deterioration of the jawbone
While the above highlight the bulk of the advantages and disadvantages associated with dental implants, patients are encouraged to discuss any other considerations with their dentist that could be applicable for their specific case.

Additional Benefits of Dental Implants

Along with the previously listed benefits, dental implants also offer patients that additional benefits of:
* Dental Structure Preservation: When teeth are lost, chewing and biting pressures are distributed unevenly across the jaw, gums, and teeth. In time, this can damage the structures of the mouth. When permanent dental implants are utilized for replacing lost teeth, bite forces are distributed more evenly thereby avoiding damage to the oral structures.

* Cost: The upfront cost of dental implants tends to be higher than other replacement options like dental bridges or dentures. However, given their longevity and the benefits offered, implants are an affordable treatment in the long-run.

* Convenience: Dental implants can be cared for the same way natural teeth would and do not require any special products, tools, time, or steps when cleaning them. As such, they are amongst the easiest and most convenient tooth replacement options that patients can choose from.

* Confidence: For most people, having an attractive, healthy smile is important. When teeth are missing, it can negatively impact a person’s self-confidence. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and social isolation. Dental implants can restore the confidence for people who have lost teeth by providing them with a smile they can love.

Dental Implant Lifespans

Exceeding most other tooth replacement options, dental implants typically have a lifespan of around 25 years. How long a dental implant ultimately lasts, will depend on several factors, including:
* Oral Hygiene Practices: Similar to natural teeth, dental implants must be thoroughly cleaned every day. A proper oral hygiene routine will include flossing daily or after meals and brushing twice per day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Patients should also undergo routine cleanings and exams with their dentist every six months.

* How the Teeth Are Used: The lifespan of a dental implant will be diminished if the patient regularly bites or chews on particularly crunchy or hard items. The longevity will be further compromised if the patient uses the teeth to remove tags or open items.

* Quality of the Implant and Dentist: When selecting which type of implant to use, it is recommended to choose one that is of the highest quality because they typically have longer lifespans than less expensive versions. Of equal importance, is choosing a dental professional with the experience and expertise to ensure the implants are properly placed so that they last for decades.

* The Implant’s Location: An implant’s longevity will also be influenced based on where it is positioned in the mouth. For example, dental implants that replace molars, undergo more chewing forces than those placed towards the front of the mouth. Given the additional pressure they undergo, wear and tear is higher on implanted premolars and molars and therefore, they have higher rates of failure.

* Health, Diet, and Lifestyle: Patients who smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, or who have poor diets, are at higher risk of implant failure. To get the most life from an implant, patients should abstain from smoking or drinking heavily and ensure they have a nutrient-rich diet.

Causes of Implant Failure

* Wear and Tear: Just like natural teeth, dental implants will be subject to wear and tear over time. By practicing the steps mentioned above, patients can minimize excess degradation of the implants.

* Medical Conditions: Some diseases and medical conditions can cut the lifespan of an implant down. Common culprits include periodontal disease, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.

* Unhealthy Habits: Beyond smoking and drinking, habits like grinding or clenching the teeth, can also damage implants. If these behaviors cannot be avoided, patients should wear mouthguards to protect the teeth and implants.

Dental Implant Existing Partial