Lifespan of a Dental Implant

Patients considering dental implants often want to know how long the devices will last. This is a natural concern and one of the key factors to evaluate when comparing dental implants with other restoration options.
Often, patients are surprised when they learn that with proper care, dental implants have a lifespan of roughly 25 years. This article will examine dental implants, their benefits, and the typical lifespan patients can expect from the devices.

Dental Implant Overview

Prosthetic teeth designed to look, function, and feel like natural teeth, dental implants are a permanent solution for replacing missing teeth. Implants are surgically placed in the patient’s jawbone by an orthopedic surgeon. Once placed, implants function and can be maintained just like natural teeth. They are a versatile, durable, and ideal option for anyone needing to replace one or more missing teeth.

Dental Implant Components

Dental implants are comprised of three components:

  • Implant – The small metal rod or post that is inserted directly into the jawbone and extends through the gums; acts as replacement tooth roots.
  • Abutment – A piece that screws onto the implant to serve as the base upon which the crown is mounted.
  • Crown – The prosthetic replacement tooth that attaches to the abutment; often made from porcelain and is color-matched to the patient’s natural teeth.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Dental Implant Procedure

While there are numerous advantages associated with placing dental implants, there are a few potential drawbacks. Typically, the drawbacks are related to side effects and can vary depending on the type of dental implant used. Patients are encouraged to discuss the various pros and cons with their dentist that could be applicable to their situation ahead of time.

The advantages of undergoing a dental implant procedure include:

  • Physical appearance improvements that can boost the patient’s self-confidence
  • Improved speaking and eating abilities compared to lost teeth
  • More comfortable than conventional dentures or missing teeth
  • Improves oral health
  • Helps to better preserve the jawbone
  • Durable and long lasting
  • More convenient than other restorations

Some potential drawbacks associated with an implant procedure include:

  • The chance the implants could be improperly placed during surgery
  • Risk of an infection developing
  • Excessive bleeding (particularly if not properly cared for)
  • Risk the implant could loosen or move
  • Can exacerbate jawbone deterioration for at-risk patients

Dental Implant Benefits

Besides the convenience associated with the longevity of the devices, dental implants offer patients several other benefits including:

  • Preserves Dental Structures: When teeth are missing, chewing pressure is distributed unevenly across the gums, teeth, and jaw. Over time, this can damage these dental structures. Permanent dental implants help support these structures by more evenly distributing bite forces.
  • Confidence: An underappreciated benefit of dental implants is the self-confidence boost that comes with a beautiful smile. People who have lost teeth often feel self-conscious about the appearance of their mouth and smile. This can lead to social isolation and avoidance behaviors that others may perceive as unfriendliness or shyness. By replacing teeth with implants, patients can feel proud of their smile and confident to tackle life.
  • Convenience: Unlike removable dentures, dental implants do not have to be taken out for cleaning and do not require modifications to normal oral hygiene routines. Dental implants can be flossed and brushed the same way as natural teeth making them one of the most convenient options for replacing lost teeth.
  • Cost: The cost for dental implants will depend on the patient’s specific needs and situation. While the upfront cost associated with implants can be higher than other options, the longevity patients can expect to enjoy from implants can justify the cost in the long run.

Dental Implant Alternatives

There are options beyond dental implants for patients that need to replace missing teeth. Some alternatives are:

  • Dental bridges
  • Dental crowns
  • Dentures

Advantages of Implants vs Other Alternatives

While every patient has unique needs, the benefits implants offer typically outweigh those of other restoration options. Some examples include:

  • Implants are permanently secured in the jawbone and therefore, will not shift out of place the way dentures can.
  • There are no dietary restrictions with implants meaning patients can enjoy a wide variety of foods without limitation.
  • Implants are much longer lasting than other restoration options.
  • Implants can be used to support other dental devices (implant-supported dentures or bridges).
  • More convenient and comfortable.

Dental Implant Lifespan

The lifespan of a dental implant is typically about 25 years. While longer lasting than other alternatives, the actual lifespan the patient will experience from their dental implants will be influenced by several variables, including:

  • The patient’s oral hygiene regimen
  • The number of implants needed
  • Implant location in the mouth
  • The patient’s lifestyle and diet
  • The geographic location and expertise of the dentist

Practicing thorough oral hygiene is the best way to optimize the longevity of dental implants. This includes flossing daily, brushing twice daily, and visiting the dentist for regular preventative care. It is also important to choose a highly skilled dentist for implant surgery as selecting a less experienced surgeon, can increase the chances of implant failure.

What Causes Dental Implant Failure

There are a variety of reasons why dental implants could fail. By understanding them, patients can take proactive steps to maximize the longevity of their implants.

  • Wear and Tear: The lifespan of an implant is reduced by excessively hard wear on the teeth or mouth. This includes activities like using the teeth to open packages or bottles or chewing on items that are not for consumption. Implants placed in the back of the mouth tend to fail more often than those in the front because of the additional pressure they undergo during normal use.
  • Unhealthy Habits: Smoking and consuming excessive alcohol can weaken the body and damage the mouth. This can have a negative affect on the integrity and lifespan of a dental implant.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions and diseases can reduce the longevity of dental implants. The most common issues are:
    • Cancer
    • Diabetes
    • Periodontal disease
    • Autoimmune diseases
    • Rheumatoid arthritis

Certain medications taken after first getting implants can also reduce their longevity. Patients should discuss all medications and medical conditions with their dentist prior to implant surgery.

Existing Partial Dentures and Dental Implants