How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

If you’ve suffered from loss of a tooth, or if you have a tooth that’s damaged beyond repair, a dental implant can help restore your smile to its original beauty. Of all the types of prosthetic teeth available, a dental implant is the closest you can get to replacing your natural tooth. Implants are fused to the mouth, so they work, look and feel just like real teeth.

An implant is an investment. It’s surgically placed in your mouth, so it’s permanent. However, dental implants can fail or need replacement parts after a time. If you’re considering a dental implant for your teeth, you should be aware of how long you can expect it to last and what you can do to prolong its service life. Here’s what you need to know.

What Are Dental Implants?

A dental implant consists of a metal post with a prosthetic tooth attached. The post is fused with the jawbone, so that it fits in the mouth just like a natural tooth. Dental implants are designed to look and function just like real teeth. Implants are an alternative to dentures and bridgework.

Benefits of Dental Implants

There are many benefits of dental implants, including:

  • Look and function like natural teeth. No one will be able to tell the difference between dental implants and your natural teeth – even you.
  • Prevent other teeth from moving. When a tooth is missing, other teeth may start to shift. Installing a dental implant can prevent this from happening.
  • Prevent bone loss. When a tooth is missing, bone loss can occur. Dental implants prevent this from happening.
  • Maintain the appearance of your face. A missing tooth can impact the appearance of your face. A dental implant prevents your face from sagging in the area around the missing tooth.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?

You’re a good candidate for dental implants if you have healthy gums and have enough jaw bone to hold onto your implants. If you smoke, your jaw bone may heal more slowly and the dental implant may fail, so the best candidates for dental implants are people who don’t smoke. Your dentist can evaluate your dental health and other factors to determine whether you’re a good candidate for implants.

How Do Long Dental Implants Last?

Dental implants are a permanent solution to a missing tooth. The post fuses permanently with the jaw bone and is never removed unless the implant fails. The metal post in the jaw bone is bonded to the jaw in a process called osseointegration. Once osseointegration is finished, the artificial tooth (called the crown) is placed on top of it.

The crown placed on the post may eventually need to be replaced after 15 to 20 years, depending on how well you care for the crown and other factors. Your dentist will be able to evaluate the condition of your crown and let you know when it needs to be replaced.

What Causes a Dental Implant to Wear Out Prematurely?

Implants should last a lifetime. However, the crown can wear out prematurely under certain conditions. Here’s what can cause an implant to wear out or fail:

Poor Oral Hygiene

Even though your implant is not a natural tooth, it still needs regular care. Poor oral hygiene can lead to gum disease, which can cause your jaw to disintegrate and may lead to the loss of your implant.

Plaque buildup can affect the area around the implant. Plaque must be stopped and removed before it becomes serious. If the plaque is allowed to develop, it can cause the implant itself to fail.

If you have implants, practice good oral hygiene habits to avoid problems with your implant. Brush twice daily, floss once daily and see your dentist for regular check-ups. Most dentists recommend that their patients get check-ups every six months.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding is hard on all teeth, including implants. If you grind your teeth, your implant crown may crack or become loose. Teeth grinding can even get in the way of the osseointegration process, if you grind your teeth before the post is fully fused with the jaw bone.

If you grind your teeth, talk to your dentist. He or she may recommend a mouth guard at night, or may decide that implants are not the right solution for you.

Other problems that can interfere with your implant include:

  • Smoking. People who smoke have a higher rate of implant failure than people who don’t smoke.
  • Osteoporosis. This condition can impact bone health and leads to bone loss, which can cause your implant to fail with time.
  • Conditions that have been associated with implant failure. Some conditions like diabetes, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and bleeding disorders have been associated with dental implant failure.

Age is also a factor. Implants are more likely to fail in older adults, often because they often have conditions that are more likely to cause complications.

Work with an Experienced Dentist

Do you need implants? Have questions about how long dental implants last? You can get your questions answered with an experienced dentist. You can also give your dental implants the highest chance of success by working with an experienced dentist. Call Dolphin Dental Group to make an appointment with an experienced dentist today.

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