Missing teeth are incredibly common, but that doesn’t make them any easier to live with. The average U.S. adult has only 25.5 of the full set of 32 teeth, and this tooth loss can lead to feelings of self-consciousness and low confidence.
Fortunately, that’s where dental implants come in! These long-lasting prosthetics are a great way to fill out your glowing smile, and the durable materials can withstand the same forces your natural teeth can.
Of course, given the intensive procedure and the up-front cost, you may be wondering, “How long do dental implants last? Is their lifespan worth the hassle?”
The answer depends on a few factors, but we’ll break down the details below. Read on to learn more!
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
Dental implants can often last a decade or longer. In many cases, dental implants are a permanent solution for missing teeth. Of course, proper dental care improves the chances that these implants will last a lifetime.
The longest-lasting portion of a dental implant is the implant root. This is the artificial root system that your dentist places in your jawbone. Because your jawbone fuses with the artificial root after a few months, this root can last forever.
The crown, or the visible upper portion of a dental implant, does not always last as long. Crowns are exposed to wear and tear as you use your teeth to bite and chew throughout your life. Though crowns are made of durable porcelain, which resembles the natural enamel of your teeth, the crown is the most likely part of a dental implant to need replacing, often after 10-15 years.
Luckily, replacing the crown of an implant is much easier and less expensive than the initial cost of implants. Even if you plan to enjoy your implants for decades to come, you may only need to return to your dentist once or twice in that time.
Why Do They Last So Long?
Dental implants’ longevity is due to their construction.
The material makeup of implants lends them strength. The best dental implant systems contain titanium or zirconium oxide, which are safe and durable materials. Other alloys and ceramics can offer similar strength.
As mentioned above, the crown of an implant contains porcelain. This is a hard, dense material that is resistant to scratching and chipping. It is also non-porous, which makes implants easy to clean and maintain.
What Can Shorten Their Lifespan?
Despite their usual long lifespan, dental implants sometimes need early replacements. Certain factors may make them fail or increase the risk of complications. Here are a few factors that can cut your time with your implants short:
Working with an expert oral surgeon is crucial if you want your implants to last. Your dental team will need to consider everything from the quality of your bone tissue to the status of your natural teeth when placing the implants. If your dentist does not have the necessary experience, implant misalignment and other mistakes can cause serious complications down the line.
Insufficient Bone Structure
As we mentioned earlier, your implant posts will fuse to your jawbone over time. If you have insufficient jawbone structure, your implant may destabilize. This can even lead to early failure.
As with most surgical procedures, implant surgery requires patients to pause their smoking for a few weeks before the procedure. However, dentists also recommend that you stop smoking altogether once the implants are in place!
This isn’t only because smoking is bad for your teeth in general: research suggests that implant failure is more common in smokers. This may happen because smoking impacts the flow of blood, which can slow the healing process in the months after surgery.
Certain health conditions can increase your risk of early dental implant failure:
- Gum disease
- Autoimmune disorders
- Cardiovascular disorders
Sometimes, the medications associated with the conditions above can also cause complications. This includes things like blood-thinning medications for cardiovascular disorders, for example.
It’s important to speak to your dentist about any pre-existing medical conditions when you have your consultation for implants.
How Do You Preserve Their Lifespan?
Although the best dentist can improve your experience, there’s a lot you can do on your own to lengthen your implants’ lifespan.
Invest in Proper Care
Your implants don’t need special care, but they do need care. You should preserve them the same way you preserve your natural teeth. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once can help keep your implants clean while reducing your risk of gum inflammation or infection.
Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush on your implants. Your dentist may also recommend low-abrasive toothpaste as well as specialized crown and bridge floss. For certain types of implants, such as all-on-four implants, your dental team may also recommend special cleaning techniques.
Address Nighttime Grinding
If you grind your teeth at night, you’ll need to remedy the problem to protect your implants. Porcelain is durable, but the human jaw is stronger: crowns can crack with enough repeated force!
Talk to your dental care team about finding the right night guard. These mouthpieces protect your teeth from wear and tear at night. They can also keep you from morning soreness from clenching your jaw.
Book a Dental Check-Up
It’s tempting to think that you don’t need regular cleanings with artificial teeth, but think again! Regular cleanings keep your whole mouth healthy, from any natural teeth you still have to your gums. Whether you have one implant or a mouth full of them, schedule a cleaning with your dentist once every six months.
Ask Us About Dental Implants Today
For most patients, dental implants can last a lifetime. Though you’ll need to invest in proper care and work with an experienced professional, the result is beautiful, natural-looking teeth you’ll enjoy for years.
Now that you’ve stopped asking, “How long do dental implants last?” it’s time to seek a consultation! If you’re considering implants, our expert team can help you weigh your options, risk factors, and outlook. Contact our team today or book your appointment online.