Dental Implants Lifespan: How Long Do Implants Last?
Dental implants are widely recognized as the most permanent and longest-lasting option for rehabilitation after tooth loss, but just exactly how long is that? “How long do implants last?” is usually the first thing most of our ClearChoice patients want to know. Dental implants are a permanent solution, which is why with proper care, most patients can confidently plan on their dental implants lasting the rest of their life. There are, of course, several contributing factors that will influence the dental implant lifespan. In order to manage those contributing factors and ensure the permanency and long-lasting success of your dental implants, it is first necessary to understand the three-part design dental implants are composed of and the function of each of those working parts.
The working parts of your dental implants:
The impressively long dental implant lifespan is largely due to the three-part design of which dental implants are composed. The individual components of your dental implants directly contribute to your dental implant lifespan. Each component is made of varying materials and fitted to different areas of your oral anatomy, and for this reason, one component’s lifespan may be longer or shorter than another’s. Therefore, understanding the function of each of the three working parts is the first step to accurately answering, “How long do implants last?”
- The implant: The foundational component of your dental implants is the implant itself. This titanium rod is surgically inserted directly into your jawbone and becomes a prosthetic root for your new tooth. With good oral hygiene and healthy habits, the foundational implant itself can be expected to last a lifetime.
- The abutment: The next layer of your dental implants is the abutment, which screws onto the top of the implant, where it sits like a short post above your gums. The abutment is most often made of titanium or zirconia and is the piece that acts as the connector for the prosthetic tooth to the implant, holding it in place. Most often, the abutment carries out a similar lifespan to the implant, but sometimes it will require replacement if it’s loosened from injury, or poor oral hygiene.
- The crown: Lastly, the crown is the outer covering of the implant and the final working component of the complete dental implant structure. Mounted atop the abutment, it could be a single false tooth, a bridge, or a full set of teeth. Usually crafted of ceramic or porcelain, the crown is custom-made to fit your mouth and is the part of the dental implant that is seen. It looks and functions just like a natural tooth (or teeth). Because it is the exposed part of your dental implants, the crown may need to be replaced after about 10 to 15 years due to normal wear from biting and chewing food, but with optimal oral hygiene, it too has the potential to last past the 15-year mark. Should your dentist advise you to have a crown replaced, it is sometimes also recommended that the abutment be replaced at the same time as a proactive measure to ensure the continued lifespan of the foundational implant itself.
Important Factors that Impact the Lifespan of Dental Implants
- Practicing Proper and Consistent Oral Hygiene and Oral Care
A well-taken care of implant has the potential to last you the rest of your life, and one of the main factors to ensuring your dental implants are well taken care of is keeping up with a consistent oral hygiene routine. The Best Oral Hygiene Tools and Practices for Dental Implants require different care and attention as compared to the general care of natural teeth. So while you likely already knew that brushing your teeth, flossing, and visiting the dentist was all-important for the optimal oral health of your natural teeth, sticking to those kinds of regular practices for dental implants is even more crucial. To help ensure the optimal dental implant lifespan of your new teeth, it is imperative that you brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day for at least two minutes, floss daily, and rinse with an alcohol-free antiseptic mouthwash after you floss. Scheduling regular cleaning appointments and dental exams with your dentist every six months is another healthy habit that will help your dental implants last longer as well.
- Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices
In addition to practicing consistent oral hygiene routines, there are also healthy lifestyle choices you can make to help you achieve the longest-lasting dental implant lifespan. If you are a smoker or use chewing tobacco, you run a high risk of complications with the surgical implant process, as well as raising the likelihood that your dental implants won’t last as long. By quitting smoking and tobacco use, you’ll be taking a healthy step towards better overall oral health and helping to make the lifespan of your dental implant as long as possible.
Diet is another element of lifestyle to pay attention to with dental implants. In order to protect the integrity and longevity of your dental implant, foods that are high in sugar, as well as foods that are sticky or hard, should all be avoided. Sugary, sticky, and hard foods are difficult to chew and, therefore, more likely to cause damage to your dental implants and increase the possibility of requiring earlier replacement. These types of foods are also difficult to clean from your teeth and therefore increase the risk of gum disease and infections, which both lower the anticipated lifespan of dental implants.
It is also advised that you never use your new teeth to open bottles or packages and that you refrain from chewing on substances not intended for consumption. This will protect your implants from being damaged by the kind of wear and tear those actions result in, and avoiding such unnecessary wear and tear will prolong the lifespan of your dental implants.
- Pre-existing Health Conditions
Pre-existing health issues like gum disease, teeth grinding, TMJ, and low bone density can affect the success and longevity of dental implants.
Gum disease is a common oral health issue for many of our patients. Learning about The Best Oral Hygiene Tools and Practices for those with Gum Disease will help you understand how to begin the healing process for sore and infected gums and how to prevent gum disease issues from worsening or coming back. If gum disease isn’t treated, your gums begin to recede, exposing the working parts of your dental implants, leaving you more susceptible to infections and your dental implants at a much higher risk of being damaged and in need of early replacement.
The joint disorder TMJ is a health condition that has the potential to limit the lifespan of your dental implants because it causes the tendency to grind or clench teeth, but grinding your teeth can also be a health condition on its own. Teeth grinding is a condition in which you unconsciously grind, clench, or gnash your teeth, and these repeated motions are very hard on dental implants. It can impede the healing process of your implant fusing in place, and the constant wear and tear will also lead to the crown wearing down and loosening, requiring a replacement much sooner. If you have TMJ or a teeth-grinding condition, we recommend wearing a custom-fit protective mouthguard to protect your dental implants from wearing down and loosening.
As mentioned earlier, the implant itself is the foundational component of your dental implants, and in order for the rest of the dental implant system to function properly, it is imperative for the implant to be anchored into the jawbone with enough healthy bone surrounding it to fully fuse into place. Low bone density and osteoporosis can pose a challenge here, as they cause bone loss at a more rapid pace. When this occurs, the implant can become less stable, shortening the expected lifespan of the dental implant.
- Other Individual Factors
Age and the placement of your dental implants are unique factors that change with each individual patient. Both of these details can impact how we answer the question, “how long do implants last?” As you age, your bones naturally become less dense, and so for older patients, the chances might be higher for the implant to become less stable at a faster rate in a more depleted jawbone, limiting the length of your dental implants lifespan. Where the implant is located makes a difference too. We mostly use our back teeth when chewing and biting down on foods, while our front teeth don’t experience as much of that kind of wear and tear. For this reason, dental implants replacing back teeth wear out more quickly than those placed at the front of the mouth. It’s common that the crown component of back implants will require restoration replacement sooner than those that replace front teeth.
While dealing with one or more of these pre-existing conditions or individual factors can shorten the length of your dental implants lifespan, it’s important to note that dental implants may still remain the most permanent and longest-lasting option for you! Scheduling a consultation appointment is a great way to find out how dental implants can work for you. Focusing on your personal needs, we’ll go over these types of pre-existing conditions and individual factors and share alternative methods that may be offered, as well as other precautions that can be taken to help you give your dental implants the longest lifespan possible.
Choosing the Right Surgeons
While many of the factors we consider when answering the question “how long do implants last?” are largely up to you, we recognize that the first factor in your dental implants lifespan is a successful dental implant surgery. Choosing a skilled and experienced surgical team is an integral factor in ensuring a successful, long-lasting dental implant. Our expert team of oral and maxillofacial surgeons uses their extensive training and knowledge to optimize treatment results and work closely with prosthodontists who use their special understanding of the dynamics of a smile, and all aspects of oral health, to create lifelike prosthetic teeth. ClearChoice brings together all the specialists, clinical staff, and elements needed for a successful treatment. This one location, one team, and one cost approach has become the preferred method for treatment because it works. We’ve helped to give over 150,000 patients new smiles and new leases on life. Don’t make your smile wait; take the important first step to ensure the most permanent and long-lasting option for your dental restoration by finding a ClearChoice location near you and scheduling a consultation with one of our trusted surgeons today!