A dental implant is a popular, effective way to replace missing teeth. It is a complete artificial tooth – from root to crown – that replaces a damaged or diseased natural tooth. The “root” is implanted in the jawbone, and a crown is placed on top of the device. It looks, feels, functions just like a natural tooth.
Dental implants have a tremendous success rate of about 98 percent. Studies show that the vast majority are still working just fine 20 years after implantation. Do dental implants last forever? Let’s find out.
About Dental Implants
What Are Dental Implants Made Of?
The implanted part of the tooth, the root, is usually made of titanium. This is compatible with the jaw bone; your body will not attack it as a foreign object. Instead, the bone will gradually grow around the implant, resulting in a solidly anchored tooth.
The crowns consist of porcelain, ceramic, or metal, and they are tinted to look like the rest of your teeth.
Who Should Get Dental Implants?
Implants can be great for people with strong gums and jawbones. You may be an ideal implant candidate if you have enough bone in your jaw to support the implant, don’t smoke, don’t have serious health issues, and are willing to commit the required months.
How Are Dental Implants Implanted?
The surgeon exposes the bone and drills a hole in which they insert the “root.” The root gradually fuses with the bone, which grows around it (osseointegration). After the area is healed, the surgeon adds an abutment, a connecting piece that holds the permanent crown in place. Finally, the new, permanent crown is placed on the abutment.
There are so many advantages to dental implants, such as:
- They look like natural teeth
- You can eat without your teeth slipping
- Your speech improves for the same reason
- Your mouth is healthier
- You don’t have to remove them to clean them so that you won’t misplace or lose them
- If you need multiple teeth replaced, one implant can anchor several teeth at once
- They don’t interfere with nearby natural teeth
Dental Implant Types
Two dental implant types are considered safe by the American Dental Association: endosteal and subperiosteal implants. Mini dental implants, a third type, can help those who can’t accommodate regular implants.
This most popular type of implant is inserted in the jawbone, and a crown is added to a connecting piece.
This dental implant type is not embedded in the bone. Instead, it is a metal frame that sits between the gum and the bone. Crowns are connected to the posts that protrude through the gum. These implants see very little use these days.
Mini Dental Implants
Some people cannot use standard implants either because their mouths don’t have adequate space, enough bone, or they cannot afford regular implants. Mini dental implants are thinner at the root, requiring less bone, and the procedure is less invasive.
Taking Care of Your Dental Implants
You can treat your implants as you do your natural teeth: brush, floss, use mouthwash, and get check-ups. If you have a bridge, it’s important to clean under it with a water flosser or floss threader.
Problems can sometimes arise. Some people experience infection, injury, nerve damage, or sinus problems. If bacteria access the implant base, your gums may become red and swollen. Get these treated right away, since more advanced conditions may cause bone loss.
What Factors Can Reduce the Dental Implant Lifespan?
Dental implants are meant to last a lifetime, but some things can cause you to seek additional help:
- Type of implant – Mini dental implants may not last as long as standard types.
- Poor maintenance and care – As mentioned earlier, implants should be treated like natural teeth. Without good oral hygiene, you risk peri-implantitis, where Infection damages the bone and can loosen your teeth.
- Insufficient bone – For implants to work, you need enough bone for osseointegration. Correction may require grafting.
- Nicotine – Smoking inhibits blood flow to your gums, making healing harder. Studies suggest that smoking increases the rate of implant failure by as much as 20 percent.
- Age – There is no maximum age for implants. However, the jawbone can weaken with age, especially for those with missing teeth for a long time.
- Medical conditions – Osteoporosis and some cancer treatments can weaken the bone and surrounding tissue. Diabetes and gum disease can also interfere with successful implants.
- Medication – Several medications can cause problems. Antidepressants and osteoporosis drugs can interfere with osseointegration. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can inhibit bone healing. Alcohol and recreational drugs can also cause significant problems.
When a Dental Implant Fails
Dental implants fail at a rate of about five percent or higher if risk factors are present. Most failures happen within the first several months after treatment, usually because the bone did not heal as it should have. If it fails years later, it’s likely to be due to improper care and maintenance.
If the bone doesn’t heal properly, the implant can be removed and replaced in a few months. However, if you have bone loss, you may need a bone graft before replacement.
Schedule your COMPLIMENTARY Consultation!
Dental implants are here to stay. Their success rate is almost perfect when carefully maintained, and you have no damaging health or physical conditions. While seemingly countless things can get in the way of success, chances are you can have a lifetime of teeth that look, feel, and function naturally.
Therefore, can dental implants last forever? Yes!
Do you have questions about dental implants? Don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule a complimentary consultation! Loudoun Orthodontics is here to provide answers and help you through the process. We will be delighted to help you. In the meantime, make sure to check out our blog for more information on orthodontic treatments!