With proper care of your dental implants, you can expect to have them last for 25 years or more. They are designed in such a way as to be a permanent option to replace missing or significantly damaged teeth. Other appliances will last a lot less time, closer to 5 to 15 years. These are things like dentures or bridges.
You might wonder if dental implants will last forever. The good news is they can last for 25 years or more and have a 95% success rate when properly cared for. The bad news is, if you are a younger person, that is not forever. They are meant to be a permanent appliance, though some less expensive implant options mean they can be unscrewed from the base. They function just like your teeth, giving you the ability to chew any foods without any slippage like you would find with dentures. So as to how long do dental implants last, you can expect them to pretty much last as long as you need them to.
One reason for a shortened lifespan of dental implants is where the implants are placed in the mouth. Molars will receive more wear because of the pressures exerted by chewing, so they are less likely to last when compared to other implants.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are permanent replacement teeth. They are drilled into the jaw and affixed to the posts. Because they are so strong, they can be put in between the natural teeth and blend in, allowing implant recipients to keep the rest of their teeth and protect them from further damage. It also means that your jaw bone can be protected, keeping it from decaying due to damage from missing teeth.
Dental implants have three main pieces.
- The implant is the metal post that goes into the jaw bone. It is typically a titanium post, a non-reactive and hypoallergenic metal. You can think of it as the replacement root.
- The abutment is attached to the implant and will ultimately hold the “tooth”.
- The crown is the replacement tooth. Typically made of ceramic, it affixes to the abutment and forms the full tooth.
Some people are not good candidates for implants. Some medical conditions make them not healthy enough to have the procedure. This list includes:
- Diabetic patients
- A health condition such as cancer
- People who do not practice good oral health and won’t keep up the care after the procedure
What is the process of getting dental implants?
Implants can take several months to get installed because the bone has to solidify around the implant post. It’s crucial that this happens so that the implants will stay put for the long term.
Leading up to your implant surgery, your dentist will assess your health and may refer you to a periodontist who specializes in the bones and gums of your jaw, or an oral surgeon. You will get a full dental exam that includes X-rays and modeling of your teeth. Your full health history will be assessed, to make sure you are a good candidate for the procedure. All of your medications will be noted. You might be prescribed an antibiotic prophylactically.
On the day of the surgery, you will be given either an injection of a local anesthetic or a general, depending on how much work needs to be done and what your tolerance for the procedure is. You should have someone lined up to give you a ride home afterward.
The surgeon will remove the damaged tooth if anything remains. Then the jaw is prepped, which may involve a bone graft from a cadaver or another part of your body if you need some additional jaw material. The last step for day one is to have the actual implants drilled in and set.
You will then get sent home for the bone to heal around the implant or implants. After they have healed for a few weeks or even a few months, you will get the abutments installed and the new porcelain tooth affixed.
What kind of dental care is needed after getting dental implants?
Once you get your implants, be sure to take good care of your teeth. There are some things you can do to protect them.
- If you don’t have any other reasons to stop smoking, this should be your primary one. People who smoke are more likely to suffer from a failure of their implants.
- Heavy drinking is another factor increasing your risk of dental implant failure.
And, be sure that you take care of your implants like the rest of your teeth, brushing and flossing daily. You also need to keep your dentist appointments. Professional cleanings twice a year and a regular dental check-up will be essential to ensuring your implants will last as long as possible
What impact can implants have?
Implants give you back a full smile, and let you gain back the self-esteem you deserve because you will no longer be self-conscious about missing teeth. Eating is like you used to be able to do thanks to having teeth again. Dental implants require little care that is different than regular teeth so they are pretty effortless to maintain.
If you need further work done to straighten your teeth, you can get braces surrounding the implants and have a perfect smile when all is done.
What can go wrong with implants?
Some issues that may come up during the process include:
- Sinus issues when dealing with implants into the upper jaw
- Infection where the implant has been placed
- Damage to the neighboring teeth or the blood vessels and nerves in the area
One of the main implant failures that can happen is that the crown may wear out if you don’t take proper care of them. That can shorten the lifespan to about 15 years.
By keeping your teeth clean, you will help ward off gum diseases like gingivitis which can lead to the gums receding. If they do that, you run the risk of exposing your new implants along with the tooth roots of the neighboring teeth. If enough of the gums recede, it may even cause damage to the jaw bone and lead to the loosening of the implant. Dental hygiene is always important, but with implants, it is even more so.
Take good care of your teeth and don’t try to use your implants for things like bottle opening or tearing open packages. How long implants last is in large part up to you.
What other kinds of appliances can be used instead of implants?
If implants are not the right solution for you, there are a lot of other replacement options you can explore with your dentist’s help. These include:
All of these are far less permanent than implants. They can also be less comfortable, but if you are not currently a good candidate for implants, they are certainly very viable.
An implant makes for a great tooth replacement and with proper care, can last 25 years or even more. If you have ever wondered how long do dental implants last, you can expect them to give you many faithful years of service.
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