Many patients considering a dental implant for tooth replacement wonder how long the implant will last. Since an implant is the only dental restoration considered permanent, it would seem the answer should be “forever.” Unfortunately, few things really last forever.
Dr. Rod Gleave at Comprehensive Dental Wellness tells his patients in Salt Lake City, UT, that how long dental implants last can depend on several factors.
What is a dental implant?
To understand how long a dental implant will last, you need to understand that the actual dental implant is a titanium post placed in the jawbone to replace a missing tooth root. There are many benefits of replacing the tooth root along with the visible part of the tooth, known as the dental crown.
To complete the restoration, an abutment, or connector, is added to the implant after a period of healing. The healing process can take three to six months, and during this time, the implant encourages new bone growth. This buildup of bone fuses the implant into the bone in a process called osseointegration, making it a permanent part of the jawbone.
After the abutment is placed, you will complete the restoration with a fabricated dental crown or fixed bridge.
So, to answer the question as to how long a dental implant will last, it depends on what part of the restoration you are asking about—the actual implant, the abutment, or the crown or bridge.
Generally speaking, the exposed parts of your restoration—the abutment and prosthetic crown or bridge, are much more susceptible to damage and deterioration than the dental implant itself. With proper care and good health, the titanium post can last a lifetime, but the abutment and visible part of the tooth may only last 15 to 25 years.
How to Properly Care for a Dental Implant
All dental restorations have an expected or usual lifespan, but how long they last can vary greatly depending on how well you take care of them.
Some factors that influence the life of dental restorations include:
- Your oral hygiene practices
The better you take care of your teeth and gums, the higher the chances your restoration will last as long as possible. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing each day, and routine visits with your dentist. Dental decay and gum disease can greatly affect the lifespan of your restoration.
- What you do with your teeth
It may seem convenient to open packages and trim your fingernails with your teeth, but each time you use your teeth as tools, you are taking a risk. The same is true for patients with the habit of chewing on things like pen caps or ice. While the titanium post is firmly secure in your jawbone, you can damage or break the abutment or prosthetic tooth replacement.
- Location of the implant
If your implant involves a chewing surface, it is more susceptible to damage, especially if you eat hard, crunchy items. An implant in the front of your mouth, however, is more prone to damage from chewing on pens and fingernails.
- The skill of the dentist who placed your implant
Many patients looking for a dental implant shop around for the lowest price. While money is always a factor to consider, you absolutely want to go to a doctor with plenty of education, training, experience, and success with placing dental implants.
- Your lifestyle and general health
Smokers and heavy drinkers have a much higher risk of dental implant failure. Gum disease also increases your risk of implant failure, as do many health issues, such as diabetes and cancer. Therefore, if you have any significant medical history, smoke, drink alcohol, or are prone to gum disease, you will want to discuss this with your dentist.
Call Comprehensive Dental Wellness with Your Dental Implant Questions
If you are in the Salt Lake City, UT, area and have a missing tooth or teeth, Dr. Gleave is the dentist to trust for your dental implant needs. For questions or to schedule a consultation, call (801) 262-0744 today.