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One of the questions we frequently get asked by those who are considering undergoing dental implant treatment is “how long do dental implants last?”

The short answer is that dental implants have been known to last for forty years – the very first implant, for example, was placed into a patient in 1965 and was still fully functioning right up until his death some forty years later in 2006.

However, this isn’t the case for everyone. There are a number of factors that can and do dictate the life span of a dental implant which we will come to later – but in order to give a more of a detailed answer to the question “how long do dental implants last?” it helps to first of all look at the anatomy of a dental implant.

 

Key Components of a Dental Implant

A tooth implant consists of 3 key components and include:

  1. The implant itself– This is a titanium post that is inserted during implant surgery into the jawbone of the patient and acts as an artificial tooth root to support a prosthetic crown or bridge
  2. The abutment – This is screwed onto the implant post. Remaining above the gum line, it holds the prosthetic in place.
  3. The crown – This is usually made from porcelain and mimics the appearance of a natural tooth.

While the titanium post inserted during initial implant surgery could last a lifetime, the porcelain crown and abutment will typically last around 15 years. This can be longer with good oral care, but because they are the parts that are most exposed or in use in the mouth, then eventually, general wear and tear will necessitate their replacement.

So if we are talking the implant itself then sure, it could and probably will last a lifetime, but not so, when talking about the dental crown or abutment.

Aside from general wear and tear, there are other factors that may shorten the life of a dental implant after implant surgery. They include…

 

Your oral hygiene

How well you care and maintain your dental implants will have a big influence on how long they last. The onset of gum disease can easily weaken the position of a dental implant causing problems with stability and fit.

As a result, it’s crucial to brush your teeth twice daily, floss once a day and combine this with six-monthly check-ups with your dentist. 

Because gum disease isn’t always painful or noticeable, especially in the early stages, it can be difficult to spot.

Your dentist is in the best position to highlight and deal with any gingival issues early on before they become problematic to a dental implant.

Location

Another factor in the potential longevity of a dental implant is where the implant site is located in the mouth. Typically, implants located at the back of the mouth receive more pressure from chewing which can cause them to fail sooner than implants at the front of the mouth.

 

How you use your teeth

While dental implants are designed to be strong and durable, they are not designed to be used as implements. Therefore, chewing pen tops, biting your nails, and using your teeth to open packages, remove bottle tops, or to crush ice, will all have a negative impact on the lifespan of a dental implant.

 

The skill of your dentist 

Implant longevity can often be down to something as simple as choosing the right dental implant dentist.

If your implant is placed by a highly experienced and highly skilled clinician, for example, a successful outcome is more favourable. He or she will have carefully planned the procedure using the latest technology to ensure accurate placement of the implant. This, in turn, ensures a better chance of bone fusion (osseointegration) and ultimately, implant success.

 

Lifestyle 

Patients who smoke are more at risk of dental implant failure than non-smokers. The reason for this is that substances contained within tobacco smoke (namely nicotine) can inhibit the bone growth process initially – but also, smokers are more susceptible to the onset of dental plaque which can also trigger or exacerbate existing gum problems. Therefore, to ensure implants last as long as possible, patients are advised to quit smoking before an implant is placed.

 

Other reasons that dental implants fail?

While implants are designed to be permanent when well maintained, certain factors can cause premature implant failure. Patients with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes are more at risk of dental implant failure.

Poor oral hygiene is another reason for implant failure. While a dental implant can’t decay, gum disease or periodontal disease can cause bone loss and subsequent implant failure.

Hopefully, this has answered the question of how long do dental implants last?

As you can see, however, the answer isn’t as clear cut as simply providing a figure. Instead, there are a number of factors or indicators which will dictate the lifespan of a dental implant and these should be taken into consideration.

If you are interested in learning more about dental implants and how long they last, why not get in touch with MyDentist West Ryde. We offer the latest digital dental implants which are proven to be convenient, precise and aid a speedy recovery. To find out more, contact us today at (02) 8073 9338 to schedule a dental implant consultation.