Lifespan of a Dental Implant
When considering how long your dental implant will last, it is important to be aware that most dental implants are comprised of three parts: the implant, the abutment, and the prosthesis. While each of these parts serve different functions and have different life spans, in general a dental implant can last up to 25 years if proper care is taken. If proper care is not taken, however, your dental implant may need to be replaced much sooner.
Prior to placement of your prosthesis, a small hole is drilled into the jawbone where the missing tooth or teeth is located. Once this hole is drilled, the implant, which is usually a small titanium rod, is placed. This rod will act as your new tooth’s root, though it will take some time for this post to fuse with the surrounding jawbone. Once it has, you will be ready to have the abutment and prosthesis placed. The reason titanium is most often used is because it is one of the few materials that is naturally accepted by the human body. Provided there are no complications with this part of the procedure, this titanium post is very resilient and will not likely need to be replaced, provided proper oral care is taken. If the implant does fail, your periodontist will have to remove it and allow your body time to heal, after which another implant can be attempted.
To support the tooth replacement, an abutment is placed, which extends above or at the gumline, to which the temporary tooth is placed. This abutment can either be a single integrated unit or a separate piece and may be made from a tooth-colored material or out of metal. Once the osseointegration process is completed and the fixture has had time to settle and heal, a final abutment is attached, which will connect the permanent crown to the fixture. The abutment is more likely to need replacement before the implant, but if properly taken care of, should be able to last just as long.
The prosthesis is the part of the dental implant that resembles and serves the same function as your natural teeth. There are a variety of materials this crown can be made of, but the most common are ceramic and porcelain. This crown will be secured using dental cement on the abutment or screwing the crown into the abutment. Once the final crown is adhered, you can return to eating, talking, and performing all your normal oral hygiene self-care habits, although you will need to modify your diet initially during the healing process. Because they receive the most wear and tear, dental crowns are the most likely part of your dental implant to be replaced. This may be as quickly as within five years or they may last as long as fifteen years. Two of the most important determinants to how long your crown will last is what type of material you use and your level of self-care.
Why It is Important to Choose the Right Parts for Your Dental Implant
When deciding what type of material you want to use for your dental implant, it is important to keep in mind the importance of choosing materials that are durable and that will restore your smile’s natural appearance. Though there may be cheaper options available when it comes to choosing material types, using these type of materials may result in the implant degrading or becoming damaged more easily, requiring additional work and costing you more money in the long run.
Ensuring the Longevity of Your Dental Implants
One of the most important things a person can do to extend the lifespan of their dental implant are to take good care of their oral health at home. This extends beyond simply brushing and flossing daily (although it is very important to do those things). This also means eating a diet that is well balanced and low in carbs and sugars and eliminating or avoiding things like tobacco use or drinking sugary drinks. If you do drink sugary drinks, you should always use a straw, as this limits exposure to the rest of your mouth. It is also important to rinse your mouth after every meal. It is also important to avoid using your teeth to open bags or gnaw on pencils. Additionally, patients who engage in high physical activity should invest in a customized guard.
The second most important thing a person can do to prolong the lifespan of their dental implant and enjoy good oral is to schedule regular examinations with your periodontist. On average, these evaluations and cleanings should be scheduled every six months, unless you have a history of periodontal disease, in which case periodontal maintenance may be suggested every three or four months.
Causes of Dental Implant Failure
There are a number of reasons a dental implant can fail, the most common being:
- Wear and Tear: Patients who are unreasonably hard on their teeth by engaging in activities like opening corked bottles or packages or gnawing on pencils or other hard objects excessively increase their risk of damaging their implant.
- Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits: Lifestyle habits like excessive alcohol consumption or regular smoking increase the risk of implant failure as well as many other oral and physical health issues.
- Underlying health issues: Patients with underlying health issues such as rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases, cancer, diabetes, and/or gum disease are more likely to experience damage to their dental implant and other natural teeth.
- Medications. Certain medications can also increase a person’s risk of having an implant fail or need to be replaced.
Schedule an Appointment Today!
One of the most important things you can do to extend the lifespan of your dental implant is to schedule regular examinations with your periodontist at least every six months, though patients who have a history of gum disease may want to schedule these examinations every three or four months. By giving your periodontist an opportunity to evaluate the health of your dental implants and oral health in general, you will greatly extend the lifespan of your dental implant and can continue enjoying good oral health and a bright, white smile!