When patients come in for a dental implant consultation at our Wall Street dental practice, they have a lot of questions and concerns. Some have simple answers, while others are more difficult. One of the questions that falls into the difficult category is, "How long do dental implants last?" It might seem to have an easy answer, but there are many factors at play.
Understanding Dental Implants
First and foremost, we must define the phrase "dental implants." For those of us in dentistry, this term describes the post that is inserted into the jaw to support a restoration (a denture, crown, or bridge), but it's more common to refer to both the restoration and the implant post collectively as a “dental implant” outside of the dental profession.
The restorations are used to restore the part of the tooth that is visible above the gum line, while the dental implants are used to replace the roots of your missing teeth. You could also need a third part, called an abutment, which connects your implant to the restoration, depending on the type of implant-supported restoration you’re getting.
Since the components of an implant-based restoration have different lifespans, it's important to understand the differences between them.
How Long Will Dental Implants Last?
The dental implant posts that are surgically implanted into the jaw are intended to replace the roots of your missing teeth. Your dental implants should have the same stability as a natural root after osseointegration (the fusing of the jawbone and dental implants) occurs. In the vast majority of cases, dental implants will last a lifetime.
There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. Dental implant failure is more common in patients who disregard aftercare instructions, smoke, have poor oral hygiene habits, or do not see the dentist on a regular basis for evaluations and dental cleanings.
How Long Do Dental Implant Restorations Last?
While dental implants themselves may last a lifetime, the restorations that are attached to them usually do not. Grinding your teeth, clenching your jaw, or using your teeth as tools to open packages or to chew on ice can all damage your restorations. The material you select for your crown, bridge, or denture makes a difference as well. Invest in a quality material and you'll get results that not only look natural, but also last for decades to come.
The denture, bridge, or crown that is anchored by your dental implant(s) should last 5-10 years, but they will last much longer if you maintain good oral health and see your dentist every six months for an oral examination and dental cleaning. Although implant-supported restorations are not susceptible to decay, they must be flossed and brushed to avoid gum disease, which is a leading cause of dental implant failure.