Dental implants have been transforming patients’ lives for almost 60 years. Way back in 1965, the first modern-style dental implants were fitted. Now they’re the gold standard for anyone looking for a permanent solution to missing teeth.
Dental implants are often praised as a permanent solution for missing teeth. This is because they don’t require the constant adjustment and refitting of dentures and are much stronger and more comfortable. But if you choose to get one, you’ll no doubt want to know the average dental implant lifespan and if you can do anything to extend it.
Join us as we explore everything you need to know about getting dental implants and helping them last for life.
Understanding Dental Implants
Dental implants can be a little confusing as the part we see is not the actual implant. Dental implants actually have three parts:
- The implant itself, which fuses with the jawbone to replace the root of the tooth
- The abutment, which connects the implant to the crown
- The crown, the natural-looking artificial tooth that you see and care for every day
The implant is typically made of titanium. The first procedure will be to place the implant directly into the jawbone. As it heals, it goes through a process of osseointegration. This means it becomes fused with the jawbone, creating a strong, stable base for the abutment and crown.
The implant is designed to last for a lifetime. Titanium and titanium alloys are very resistant to corrosion and form excellent bonds with bone tissue. It is also very strong and can withstand the pressure of chewing and biting.
Types of Dental Implants
The type of dental implant described above, also known as endosteal, is the most common type. If you have no teeth remaining, dentists can place several endosteal implants and use them to replace entire arches of teeth. They are generally considered to be the best dental implants available.
Some patients do not have enough bone height to support endosteal implants. In these cases, your oral surgeon may recommend subperiosteal implants.
Rather than being embedded into the jawbone, a metal framework sits on top of the bone below the gum. This structure then holds dentures in place, which gives the appearance of natural teeth.
Dental Implant Benefits
Dental implants can be a real game changer for people with missing teeth. Unlike dentures, there are no dietary restrictions with dental implants. So you can enjoy all your favorite foods again and bite and chew confidently.
Dental implants can also give your self-confidence a boost. The visible crowns are often virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth. They can also help you to maintain the shape of your face by providing the support that natural teeth would.
Finally, they are good for your health. Like a muscle, bone needs constant stimulation to remain strong. Dental implants allow you to continue stimulating your jawbone, which can prevent bone loss.
Dental Implant Lifespan
An endosteal dental implant can last up to thirty years or even longer. Because the titanium screw effectively becomes part of the jawbone, it can last for decades. Titanium is able to stand up to the pressures exerted on the abutment and crown as you chew and is unlikely to break.
However, you may find that you need to replace the crown as time goes on. According to a 2009 PubMed article, around 50-80% of crowns last between 15-20 years. That said, with good care, crowns may last for much longer than this and remain in good condition.
Subperiosteal Implant Lifespan
Although subperiosteal implants do not fuse with the bone, they also have an excellent lifespan of up to 25 years. But, again, you may need to replace the dentures before replacing the implant itself.
How to Care for Dental Implants
To give your dental implant the best chance of success, you need to maintain good oral health. This applies both during the process of placing the implant and after the procedure has been completed. Your oral surgeon will provide guidance tailored to your situation to set you up for a lifetime of dental implant success.
Just as with natural teeth, it’s important to brush your crowns twice a day and floss at least once each day. Crowns cannot decay, so you may wonder why this is necessary.
Prevent Gum Disease
Gum disease is a big threat to the long-term success of dental implants. Brushing and flossing help to remove plaque from the surface of the teeth and between the teeth. If plaque is not removed, you may develop gum disease.
Serious forms of gum disease can cause damage to the jawbone. If left untreated, this could cause your implant to fail.
It’s also vital to visit your dentist every six months for a checkup. They will examine your dental implant and can spot any signs of gum disease. At the early stages, gum disease can be reversed, but it’s crucial to treat it as quickly as possible.
Follow a Healthy Lifestyle
Although crowns cannot decay, eating and drinking too much sugar can increase your chances of developing gum disease.
Smoking also increases the likelihood of dental implant failure. Smokers are more likely to develop gum disease. It can also slow down the osseointegration process, which allows the implant to form a strong base.
If you are a smoker, it may still be possible for your oral surgeon to successfully place a dental implant. However, you may need additional treatment before the implant is placed to give it the best chance of success.
Conditions such as cancer and diabetes can also increase the risk of dental implants failing. In some cases, the treatment for these conditions can also reduce their lifespan. Discuss these concerns with your oral surgeon.
Dental Implants – The Permanent Solution
Although many factors can influence dental implant lifespan, good oral care is essential. You can give your dental implants and crowns the best chance of lasting a lifestyle with good daily oral care. In addition, regular visits to the dentist will help to catch any problems before they become serious.
The oral surgeons at Jenkins, Morrow & Gayheart are here to help. They will provide a tailored solution that’s right for you and give you great advice to help your dental implants last a lifetime.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or ask any questions.