Dental implants are a common treatment plan for individuals looking to replace their missing teeth. An implant is a titanium post that substitutes the tooth root. Teeth implants also serve as the anchor for artificial teeth to be attached to. Typically, dental crowns, dentures, or dental bridges can be used as fake teeth.
Among the possible tooth replacement options, dental implants are the most popular and sustainable cosmetic dentistry treatment for tooth loss. That’s because they provide many benefits such as maintaining your facial structure, keeping your natural teeth in place, preserving the jawbone, and are superior to dentures and bridges.
Bridges are supported by the surrounding teeth rather than the tooth root, making them less stable and putting the health of your jawbone and other teeth at risk. Dentures can affect your speech while making eating quite uncomfortable.
Dental implants have been used for many years although modern technology has drastically improved their design and construction.
Archaeological evidence has found that animal teeth, gems, and shells were found in skulls that served as replacements for missing teeth. Specifically, in 1931, Dr. Wilson Popenoe discovered three shells implanted into the jaw of a human found in the Mayan ruins of Honduras.
Surprisingly, they noticed that the bone around the makeshift implant was restored and integrated with the shells, which solidified into a base for a new tooth.
Dental implants are also designed to be a long-term solution and can last upwards of 25 years. According to one study, 50 to 80% of crowns last between 15 to 20 years. In comparison, most alternatives only last between 5 to 15 years. However, proper oral hygiene and routine visits to a professional dentistry clinic can play a pivotal role in how long the implants last. Here’s what you need to know about the lifespan of dental implants.
What can affect the lifespan of dental implants?
Dental implants are made to be permanent. That’s because the implant is bonded with the jawbone and surrounding bone through osseointegration. However, sometimes dental implants fail due to various factors such as poor oral health, medical conditions, lifestyle choices, or injury or damage to your teeth.
When dental implant failure occurs, the implant can be replaced. You can also switch to other treatment options instead such as dental bridges and dentures. Here are the factors that affect the lifespan of dental implants.
Practicing good oral hygiene can help increase the lifespan of dental implants. Plaque build-up and harmful bacteria can lead to infection in the tissues around the implant, leading to failure in the implant.
Patients who practice proper dental hygiene tend to have implants that last much longer than those who don’t have good oral care, such as flossing or brushing their teeth routinely. Regular dental check-ups with professional cleanings can remove plaque from hard-to-reach places, which helps to prevent gum disease. Regular visits also mean that dentists can identify and treat any infections early before they negatively affect the lifespan of dental implants.
Certain lifestyle choices can affect the durability of dental implants even though implants are typically meant to be a permanent solution for tooth loss.
Dental implants require sufficient blood flow to the area to be properly healed post-surgery. In the early stages, nicotine will reduce the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream, which prolongs or slows down the healing process. Furthermore, smoking puts individuals at risk of gum disease.
ental implants rely on strong jawbones and healthy gums for support.
It’s recommended not to consume any alcohol for at least 72 hours after the implant surgery. Alcohol causes the blood to thin. As a result, the tissues in your mouth may dry out, and the blood won’t clot effectively.
Injury or damage
Although dental implants are designed to be permanent, dental crowns aren’t indestructible. The crown is the prosthetic tooth that attaches to the implant through the abutment, a metal post.
Like teeth, crowns are also susceptible to cracks, chips, or even tooth loss. There are many ways to damage the crown, such as:
- Use of teeth to open plastic packaging or bottles
- Injuries to the face or mouth
- Eating chewy or sticky foods
- Chewing on hard foods like ice or hard candy
Damage to your teeth or face can significantly reduce the lifespan of dental implants. If the jaw suffers damage, the dental implant may be knocked loose and require replacement. As for the crown, it may need to be replaced or fixed depending on the severity of the damage.
Several medical conditions can cause implant failure, such as osteoporosis, diabetes, bleeding disorders, a weakened immune system, and cardiovascular disorders.
For example, a weakened immune system or diabetes can make you prone to infections. When a tooth is infected, the implant may need to be removed first, followed by a root canal treatment to repair the decaying or infected tooth. Afterward, it’s possible to have the dental implant replaced.
The osseointegration process or the bonding of the root to the bone is crucial to determining how long dental implants last. Conditions that impact bone health can affect the implant, such as osteoporosis and peri-implantitis.
Bone loss destabilizes the implant, and so the implant will not be anchored onto your jawbone. In this case, some patients may receive a bone graft to help stabilize and secure the implant in place. The bone graft regenerates the bone tissues before having the dental implant in place.
For patients who opt not to replace the implant, implant treatment options are available, such as dentures or dental bridges. Removing the implant isn’t required if significant bone loss hasn’t occurred yet. In this case, your dentist will perform thorough decontamination and cleaning of the area and implant.
Which teeth are replaced
How long your dental implants last can depend on the positioning of the tooth being replaced. Your teeth have many functions, such as speaking, chewing, tasting, and eating. The front of the mouth is primarily responsible for speech, appearance, and taste.
The front teeth, tongue, cheeks, and lips control the airflow through the mouth, forming the words we speak. The front teeth also help to hold the food in the mouth. The teeth located in the back and side of your mouth are mainly used for chewing, which means more pressure will be placed in those areas frequently. Over time, dental implants positioned in the back of the mouth take on more wear and tear, resulting in a shorter lifespan.
Furthermore, bad habits such as grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw can put additional stress on your jaw and crown. This may lead to cracks or chips in the ceramic crown. Post-surgery, it’s important to avoid these bad habits because they can disrupt the healing process.
Looking after your dental implants
Proper care for your dental implants is critical to ensuring a high success rate and longevity. Just like natural teeth, you’ll need to keep them clean to prolong their functionality and appearance. Failure to keep up with a good hygiene routine can increase the risk of gum diseases like peri-implantitis, an inflammatory condition that affects the hard and soft tissues surrounding the implants.
Following the post-surgery aftercare process helps to make the healing process as quick and comfortable as possible. You can prolong the lifespan of the dental implants by brushing twice a day using a soft-bristle toothbrush, flossing daily, visiting a dental hygienist every six months, using a low-abrasive toothpaste, and brushing around and under the implant crown.
Thinking about dental implants
Having missing teeth can be an unpleasant experience. It can heavily impact your chewing and damage the surrounding teeth. Dental implants are one of the best long-term solutions for missing teeth since they function and look like normal teeth. Since they are screwed onto the bone, they provide a stable foundation for the crown to be fitted on top.
However, dental implants do require post-surgery and long-term after-care. Factors such as your oral health, lifestyle choices, injury or damage, medical conditions, and which teeth are replaced can affect the lifespan of the implants. It’s recommended to have good oral habits to ensure proper aftercare, such as brushing, flossing, professional cleaning, and even teeth whitening.
At Bespoke, our implantologists and highly trained staff will provide guidelines to follow after your surgery to ensure optimal oral health.
Restore your smile and regain your confidence with our dental implant treatment plan at Bespoke Smile. We know that dental work can cause anxiety, which is why we treat each patient like they’re our family.
Our implant dentist will explain the options for dental implants and how they work. Book a dental consultation today to see if you’re a good candidate for dental implants.