Lifespan of a Dental Implant

One of the first questions that patients ask about dental implants is how long do they last? This concern about the longevity of dental implants makes sense. How long implants last is a key factor to consider when weighing them against other potential options.

The lifespan of dental implants depends on various factors, including the type of dental implant, where the dental implant is placed, your personal oral health, and your specific habits. It also depends on what you mean by dental implant. To many patients, the dental implant is the entire restoration, the titanium implant, the abutment, and the crown. Your dentist might define it differently.

Many patients are surprised to learn that, when properly cared for, a dental implant can last for over 30 years.

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are comprised of three basic components. The first and foremost is the titanium post that is surgically placed in your jawbone. This is the element that makes implants the most natural restoration option available today. This post, once it fuses, bonds, and grows into the bone, acts like an artificial tooth root. It delivers biting and chewing pressures as well as temperature changes. Most importantly, it secures and stabilizes the prosthetic tooth. The second component is an abutment or extension that is added to the post to reach the surface of your gums. The final component is the artificial crown, which is affixed to the abutment.

Implants are surgically placed by a qualified dentist and take several appointments to successfully complete the entire process. Once in place, they function and can be maintained in the same ways as your real teeth. They are a durable, versatile, and an appealing option for anyone who needs a tooth replacement.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Having a Dental Implant Placed

There are far more benefits to having a dental implant placed than any drawbacks.

The advantages of having a dental implant restoration can include:

  • An improved physical appearance, your smile, your facial structure, leading to an increase in self-confidence.
  • Improved quality of speech versus missing teeth or slipping dentures.
  • Increased comfort over traditional dentures or missing teeth.
  • Much easier biting, chewing, and more natural eating.
  • Improved total oral health.
  • Considerably higher durability.
  • Increased convenience versus other treatment options.

The disadvantages of having a dental implant procedure include:

  • A very small chance of error when the implant is placed.
  • The potential of infection or excessive bleeding if not taken care of properly.
  • The small risk of movement of the implant.
  • The continued deterioration of the jawbone in at-risk populations.

You should consult with your dentist about other advantages or disadvantages that apply to your unique situation.

Can Dental Implants Last Forever?

When it comes to dental implants, there are three primary questions many patients want answers to:

  • How long will the dental implant last?
  • Is the dental implant permanent?
  • Does the dental implant last forever?

Research has shown that dental implant longevity depends on which arch the dental implant is placed. Dental implants placed in the upper jaw had an 84 percent success rate and were healthy over a 12-year period. Dental implants in the lower jaw had a 93 percent success rate over the course of 12 years.
To give you an idea, the 5-year success rate for a mandibular implant is over 95%, and the 15-year rate only falls by four percentage points to 91% on average.

The Lifespan Can Depend on Your Oral Health

The success rate depends on various factors subjective to your physical makeup. Before placing your dental implant, your dentist will measure the density of your jawbone. The jaw holds your natural teeth in place and there is a symbiotic relationship between it and the root of your teeth.

Every time you chew gum or eat food, your teeth are exerting force into the jaw, and this tears the tissue. This pressure catalyzes the bone to continue to regenerate and strengthen, much like a muscle after working out, and it is part of the natural process of keeping your bone density strong and healthy.
When you lose a tooth, the stimulation your jawbone needs is no longer there and the bone will begin to lose density and atrophy. You may need to add a bone graft, if your jaw has lost density, but depending on the severity of the bone loss it can be beneficial in the implant success.

Your Personal Oral Hygiene Habits Contribute to the Lifespan of Your Dental Implant

If you take time each day to maintain your teeth, you can maintain a healthy implant. Several studies indicate the long-term survival of dental implants is a 20-to-30-year span. The crown can often last between 10 years and 15 years before replacement.

While oral hygiene plays a primary role in preserving your dental implant, there are other factors that will affect the longevity of your dental implant. Here are five variables to consider when attempting to extend the life of a dental implant:

  • Your oral hygiene practices: Maintaining and taking care of your dental implant means practicing a good daily oral hygiene routine that includes brushing and flossing. Good oral hygiene also includes visiting your dental office twice a year for regular check-ups.
  • The ways you use your teeth: If you bite hard or chew on very hard items, you might decrease the lifespan of your dental implant. Using your teeth unnecessarily to open certain items or remove tags can also affect the longevity of your dental implant.
  • The quality of the implant: A high-quality dental implant will last longer than an inexpensive one. Paired with an experienced dentist who is trained to expertly place an implant, a top-quality dental implant will last for decades.
  • The location of the implant: A dental implant placed at the back of the mouth will encounter more pressure from chewing than an implant placed near the front of the mouth. Because of this increased wear and tear, an implant in the back of your mouth might not last as long.
  • Your overall oral health and lifestyle: To help optimize and extend the life span of your dental implant, it is best to refrain from smoking and drinking heavily before and after your dental implant is placed.

If you diligently practice good daily healthy practices and schedule routine preventative dental check-ups, you can get the most out of your dental implant.

Existing Partial Dental Implants