Lifespan of a Dental Implant

A dental implant is a dental restoration that is used to replace one or more missing teeth. The implant acts as the root of the tooth and a dental prosthesis is placed on the implant to restore it with a fake tooth. Dental implants are surgically placed by an oral surgeon or a periodontist directly into the patient’s jaw bone under local anesthesia. Dental implants are an incredibly natural looking restorative option for anyone looking to replace one or more teeth. Dental implants can even be used to support a full denture!

What makes up a dental implant?

A dental implant consists of three parts: the implant, and abutment, and the implant restoration. The implant itself is a small titanium post that is surgically placed directly into the jawbone to act as the root of a tooth.

The abutment is a piece that fits directly onto the implant and serves as the attaching bridge between the implant and the implant restoration. The implant restoration can be an individual crown, and implant supported partial denture, or a full denture and is the fake tooth part of the implant. Implants can be used to support a full denture on one or both arches of the mouth.

Dental implants are one of the more costly ways to replace a missing tooth but their benefits usually outweigh the cost for most patients.

Is there a downside to dental implants?

Dental implants have many benefits and very few disadvantages, which are generally attributed to side effects and vary based on the types of dental implants received. A few benefits of dental implants include:

  • Improved oral health
  • Durability
  • Improved self-confidence
  • Easier to eat and speak with
  • Incredibly stable and comfortable

Disadvantages include:

  • Potential for infection
  • Increase bone deterioration in at-risk patients
  • Potential for movement of the implant

Some patients may be at risk for other disadvantages with dental implants. Your doctor can help determine if you are a good candidate for dental implant placement and what risks you might face during and after implant placement surgery.

What are the most common benefits of dental implants?

Dental implants have a wide range of benefits for patients. Let's take a look at some of the biggest benefits a patient can expect to see!

Ease of oral hygiene: dental implants are actually very easy to care for! You do not need any special tools are products to maintain a healthy implant, you simply need to continue with your regular oral care routine! A dental implant can be brushed and floss just like natural teeth.

Aesthetics: dental implants are incredibly natural looking! Unless you tell them, no one will know you have an implant. The high-quality aesthetics of a dental implant gives patients an increased sense of confidence when they smile. When a patient is missing a tooth, they often feel self-conscious and do not want to smile their best smile. A dental implant can change all of that!

Oral and overall health: when a patient is missing a tooth, the supporting bone structure will begin to deteriorate over time. Tooth roots help stimulate bone regeneration so without that stimulation, jaw bone structure will begin to deteriorate. When that happens, neighboring teeth are at risk of becoming loose and possibly falling out. A dental implant is an artificial tooth route and helps stimulate bone regeneration to prevent the deterioration that can be detrimental to the health of remaining teeth. When a patient is missing a tooth, the pressure applied to neighboring teeth when eating and speaking can become disproportionate and put those healthy teeth at risk for fracture or other damage.

For patients who are able to endure implant placement surgery and the extensive healing time that comes along with it, dental implants are an excellent choice to replace missing teeth.

What is the lifespan of a dental implant?

The average lifespan of a dental implant is about 20 to 25 years but your individual case may cause the lifespan of a dental implant to vary. Some factors that can directly affect how long your implant lasts include:

  • Oral hygiene
  • Lifestyle and dietary habits
  • The location of the implant
  • The experience of your dentist

With proper care and maintenance, patients can even expect their dental implant to last a lifetime. The prosthesis on the implant may need to be replaced eventually due to normal wear and tear but the implant itself can last. Implant patients can benefit from more frequent professional cleanings than the usual twice a year. Your dental hygienist can help you prevent gum disease and peri-implantitis which can be damaging to your implant.

What can cause a dental implant to fail?

As with any surgery, there is always a risk of failure. A dental implant can fail for a number of reasons and understanding them beforehand can help you take the necessary steps to avoid implant failure and extend the lifespan of your dental implant. Some reasons a dental implant might fail include:

Unhealthy habits

Patients with poor oral hygiene habits and those who smoke and consume an excessive amount of alcohol can cause a lot of damage to their mouth. Alcohol and smoking can weaken the body which can negatively affect the integrity and longevity of dental implants. Patients with poor oral hygiene risk developing gum disease which, left untreated, can progress into periodontal disease which can cause gum recession and bone deterioration. Bone deterioration can quickly lead to a compromised implant that can fall out.

Excessive wear and tear

Any patient with a dental restoration will greatly benefit from a night guard. A night guard will prevent the negative effects of bruxism, which is the unconscious clenching and grinding of the teeth which a lot of us do in our sleep. Excessive wear and tear can include using your teeth as tools to open bottles or packages or chewing items that are not meant to be chewed. Dental implants in the posterior of the mouth are more likely to fail overtime than those in the front. This can be simply due to the differences in pressure on the back teeth when eating.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can cause patients to be at a higher risk of implant failure. Some of the more common medical conditions that cause implant failure include:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Cancer
  • Gum disease
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

There are also certain medications that can negatively impact your dental implant. Medications that cause dry mouth can be a culprit of implant failure so make sure you speak with your dentist about all medications you are currently taking and keep them up to date with any changes in your medical history, including changes in your medications.

Existing Partial with Dental Implants