Dental implants are the ideal solution for those with missing teeth, one of the greatest advancements of modern dentistry. You might have once had to cover your mouth self-consciously when talking, laughing or even when you were smiling. This can be easily fixed with Dental implants. They also help keep your jaw healthy and helps to maintain facial structure.
While replacing teeth does a great job of mimicking your natural teeth, they are not the cheapest dental treatment available on the market. So, it is fair to ask: How long do these implants last?
What are dental implants?
The best method to determine how long dental implants last is to, firstly, look at their components, which are:
- A Titanium implant
- An abutment
- A dental crown
The Titanium implant consists of a screw, made of a biocompatible material (Titanium) that is accepted by the body, which is inserted directly into the jawbone. This does not promote any harsh reactions from the immune system – for this reason, it is also used in artificial joints. Your bone will fuse with the screw – a process we call osseointegration, locking it in to position. This component of the dental implant is designed so it would last a lifetime. Provided that it is maintained well it usually will.
The abutment is a small hook that connects the Titanium screw to the dental crown. This is also designed to last a lifetime like the Titanium implant.
Finally, the dental crown, the only visible component of the implant. Crafted out of porcelain and color-matched to your natural teeth, this component may need replacing unlike the others. The average lifespan of a crown is estimated to be between 10 and 15 years, but we often see that they last much longer. Again, it comes down to good oral habits.
Factors that determine how long your dental implants last
All medical procedures come with a certain level of risk. Having a dental implant inserted into your jaw is no different. The procedure is relatively simple. However, implants can fail following the surgery due to infection in the surrounding gum tissue, the bone failing to fuse with the implant or due to surgical trauma.
Your best course of action to follow to avoid such issues is to have your dental implant surgery performed by an experienced and reliable dentist. They will ensure you have the necessary pre-surgery consultation checks to inspect that your oral health is up to standard, and that the surgery itself would be performed in a clean and sterile environment. This will greatly reduce the chance of any infection post-op.
Some of your everyday activities could pose a risk to your dental crown. If you play a sport like footy or rugby or even like volleyball, you need to ensure you wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth. You would not want to crack your porcelain crown in a preventable accident.
Unconscious habits such as grinding teeth could also contribute towards a reduced lifespan of your crown. It would be best to avoid chewing any hard items, like ice. Excessive drinking and smoking will also have negative impacts. They also weaken your immune system which makes it easier for infection to take hold within your gums and jaw, leading to potential issues with the titanium implant.
Location of the dental implant within your mouth is another factor that can affect the lifespan of your implants. Some teeth see more wear and tear than others. Molars are responsible for grinding down food which makes them wear faster than the other teeth. If your dental implant is replacing a ‘Molar’ tooth, then the crown will be exposed to the daily grind.
Though the dental implant is not a ‘real’ tooth, it is still vulnerable to poor oral hygiene. It is vital that you adhere to the advice of your dentist before AND after the surgery. Once the site has fully healed, brush twice daily and floss; this will help remove food particles or any bacteria build up that is lodged between the teeth and keep your gums healthy. This will in turn ensure that your dental implant is protected.