Nowadays, more and more dentists are recommending dental implants as the ideal choice for replacing one or more missing teeth. For those of you who may not know, dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are placed into the jawbone. They are made from titanium and are designed to eventually fuse with the surrounding bone structure to act as an anchor for a dental prosthetic such as a crown, bridge, or denture.
Since dental implants are “implanted” into the jawbone, however, they do require a minor oral surgery in order to be placed. In some cases, they may also require additional procedures such as a bone graft or sinus lift in order to ensure there is enough bone mass for the implant to fuse with. After they are placed, it will take an average of three to six months for them to fuse with the surrounding bone. During this time, patient compliance is of the utmost importance to make sure they heal properly.
With all these stipulations, some people start to wonder if dental implants last long enough to make the implant placement procedure worth it. While deciding if dental implants are worth it for you is up to you and your implant dentist, it can be said that implants are worth it in terms of how long they last.
On average, dental implants can last around 20 years, but this number is steadily growing as certain implants have been found to last even longer. In most cases once an implant heals properly, it will last several years if properly cared for. Because of this, dental implants are rarely removed, except if the implant fails.
If a dental implant is going to fail, this usually happens during the three to six months when the implant is fusing with the bone. This period is known as osseointegration and it is an essential process that must occur to stabilize the implant. However, dental implants have a 98% success rate, so it is rare that the implant will fail.
Although dental implants last about 20+ years, it is important to note that the prosthetic attached to them will most likely not last as long as the implant itself. The average lifespan for crowns, bridges, and dentures is about 10-15 years. Therefore it is very likely that the prosthetic will wear out and need to be replaced while the implant remains intact. However since the implant is already in place, you will not need to undergo the entire dental implant procedure a second time. Rather, your dentist will have a new restoration fabricated that will then be attached to the dental implant.
To keep your dental implant in good shape for years to come, it is important to maintain your oral health. Even though dental implants help to support a fake tooth, they still need to be cared for like real teeth. This means brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting your local dental office for a checkup and teeth cleaning every six months. This will reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease and increase the lifespan of your dental implant.
Overall, dental implants are extremely long-lasting. With an average lifespan of 20+ years, they are currently the longest-lasting restoration method available for replacing missing teeth. However, their long lifespan is dependent upon patient compliance immediately following the procedure, a successful osseointegration process, and continued oral hygiene care in the years following placement.
Dr. Dennis Laurich has been practicing dentistry for over 40 years. He received his DDS degree from the University of Michigan Dental School and regularly attends oral health care conventions to continue his dental education. This allows him to treat patients with the leading dental technology and methodologies. Additionally, he is a member of the American Dental Association, Michigan Dental Association, and the Detroit District Dental Society.