How Long do Implant Supported Dentures Last?

When patients lose one or more teeth, dentures are often used as a way to restore appearance and functionality of the mouth.  Implant supported dentures are one type of denture that is increasingly being used to achieve this goal, but patients may wonder how long they can expect the dentures to last.  In this article, we will examine the process of using implant supported dentures, how long the dentures can be expected to last, and what can be done to prolong the life of the implants.

While traditional dentures, covering either a partial area or replacing a full set of teeth, are affixed using metal clasps or adhesives, implant supported dentures involve inserting an implant directly into the jawbone which effectively acts as the root of the teeth.  Generally, two to six implants per jaw are used rather than requiring implants for each individual tooth.  This allows the patient to recover faster, is a less costly procedure, and as a result, is often recommended by dentists instead of replacing each tooth.

The procedure for implant supported dentures begins with a consultation.  Your dentist will assess your mouth in order to determine your requirements using examinations, X-rays, and CT scans.  Typically, patients can expect to meet with their dentist four or five times over the course of a month or two during this assessment period, but the number of visits will vary from patient to patient based on their requirements.  Once the dentist has determined the scope of the problem, measured the area, and taken impressions of the affected areas, the appropriate type of denture best suited to address the problem will be selected and fitted for the patient.  Upon finding the right model for your mouth, the dentist will order the final denture to be made.

After the appropriate denture is chosen, the dentist will implant the denture in the patient’s jawbone.  Using a local anesthetic, the dentist will numb the area so that the procedure is painless.  Then, the dentist will cut into the gums so that the underlying bone is exposed.  Holes will then be drilled into the bone so that the implant can be screwed into place.  An abutment linking the jaw to the denture will be used to hold the two pieces together.  After the procedure is completed, a natural healing process is needed in order to allow the denture to settle and the underlying bone to strengthen around the implant.  Additional dentist visits may be required to ensure the denture is properly aligned and eliminate any discomfort.

Typically, patients can expect dentures to last between 5-10 years.  The type, quality, and cost of the denture used will impact how long they last but the characteristics of your mouth will also impact their longevity.  Because our jawbones change over time, the effectiveness and fit of the denture can be impacted negatively and may necessitate future adjustments or replacement.  Additionally, just like our natural teeth, artificial teeth are susceptible to trauma as well as normal wear from daily use.  As such, it is vitally important to adopt sound oral hygiene practices in order to maximize the denture life.

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