When a patient comes to me with a missing tooth or one which needs to be replaced, I want to provide a solution which is going to last as long as possible.
Although patients ask me about dentures, crowns, and bridges, in many cases, the solution I end up recommending is a dental implant.
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With a dental implant, you receive a brand new artificial tooth. The implant itself is a metal post which roots the tooth right into the jaw.
This fills the same function which your natural root did before you lost your tooth or the tooth or root were damaged.
While there are pros and cons for every treatment option, dental implants have a number of benefits. One of those is that they can last a long time if you take care of them.
In this article, I am going to answer all of your questions about how long dental implants last in-depth.
- How Many Years Can Your Dental Implants Last?
- Dental Implants vs. Bridge Crowns
- Benefits of Dental Implants Over Dentures
- Can You Get a Guarantee on Your Dental Implants?
- How to Keep Your Dental Implants in Great Shape
How Many Years Can Your Dental Implants Last?
How long do dental implants last? A lot of dentists will tell you that they can “last a lifetime.”
While this sounds great, it’s pretty vague, right? So let’s talk about how long dental implants can last in terms of actual years.
I always believe in turning to the research when it comes to informing my patients. So let’s take a look at some studies which have been conducted on oral implant longevity.
- A 2007 study reports, “The survival of oral implants after 10 years varies between 82% and 94%.”
- Another study published three years later says, “The long-term implant cumulative survival rate up to 15 years was 82.94%.” This same study has additional comments to offer regarding gum disease, which we will discuss later.
- Colgate states, “A crown can be made wider to close a space. Studies so far have shown that these implants can last as long as 25 years.”
Why do dental implants last longer for some patients than others? A lot of it comes down to how you care for your teeth and gums.
I’m going to give you detailed tips for maintaining your dental implants, but first, let’s talk about why you would choose dental implants over some of the other options out there.
Dental Implants vs. Bridge Crowns
Along with dental implants, another option you might be thinking of is a bridge crown.
With a bridge crown, instead of a metal post holding the new tooth in place, the tooth is attached to those adjoining it.
A bridge can be faster and less expensive than implants. Implants, however, tend to look more natural. They also do not damage the adjacent teeth, whereas the bridge process can since the new tooth needs to be bonded directly to your natural teeth.
It is also a lot easier to floss between implanted teeth than those joined with a bridge. This can add to the longevity of the implants versus a bridge.
A bridge can last up to a decade or so, but a dental implant may last significantly longer.
Benefits of Dental Implants Over Dentures
We can’t forget about dentures, right? There is a good chance that your parents had dentures, since this used to be the only option on the market. They may still be the first solution which jumps into your mind for just that reason.
The main reason to consider dentures today is to save money in the short run. Dental implants require a larger initial outlay.
The problem with dentures is that a few years from now, you’ll need to replace them. The same will be true a few years after that, and so on. Those costs stack up over time. In the long run, that could add up to more than the outlay for dental implants today.
Dentures are also inconvenient in many other regards. They are notoriously unstable, and can disrupt the taste experience as you eat. Implants do not cause these problems. They feel and function like regular teeth.
Can You Get a Guarantee on Your Dental Implants?
Since dental implants are meant to last a long time, you may wonder if the average dentist will stand behind that with a warranty or guarantee.
Most dentists fall into one of two categories here. Either they offer 1-no guarantee, or 2-a conditional warranty that lasts up to several years.
The reason for this is that there are so many factors (see below) which impact how long dental implants last.
Many of these are outside the dentist’s control. This is why reputable dentists are always upfront with their patients and make no lifetime guarantees.
How to Keep Your Dental Implants in Great Shape
So, now you know that dental implants can be the most lasting, convenient solution for tooth replacement. But how can you make sure that yours last as long as possible?
1. Take care of your teeth and gums
Previously, I referenced this study, which mentions gum disease. The researchers say, “Patients with a history of periodontitis may have lower implant survival rates than patients without a history of periodontitis and were more prone to biological complications such as peri-implant mucositis and peri-implantitis.”
To prevent gum disease, do the following:
- Brush and floss your teeth every day. You should ideally be brushing twice a day for at least two minutes each time.
- Use mouthwash.
- Avoid eating sugar, especially multiple times a day. Steer clear of starchy foods in general.
- Load up on healthy foods which are rich in vitamin C and vitamin A.
- Do not chew tobacco or smoke.
The more consistent you are, the less likely you are to develop gum disease or damage or loosen your implants.
2. Do not clench or grind
Do you clench or grind your teeth at night? If you do—or believe you do—that can cause issues when getting dental implants.
First of all, grinding your teeth (which is called “bruxism”) can disrupt the healing process following implantation, causing the implant not to set properly.
Secondly, grinding can loosen an implant even after the healing process, just as it can loosen your natural teeth.
What can you do about it? Sometimes, switching off of a certain medication can stop grinding. Wearing a bite guard is another option. In some cases, injections are available. Therapy may help prevent grinding too. Both your dentist and primary care provider can help you explore your options.
3. Protect your bone density
According to this research, dental implants are more likely to last a long time in patients with high bone density.
If you want dense, healthy bone tissue, you need to get the following in your diet:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K
Eating more vegetables is a great way to load up on some of these key nutrients. You can also try eating meats which are high in protein. Healthy dairy products can add to your calcium stores. Taking a multivitamin and additional supplements as needed can also give bone structure a boost.
4. Make regular dental appointments
You know the old saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It may be a cliché, but there is a reason that clichés stick around: they are often true.
That is certainly the case when it comes to your oral health and making regular dental appointments! The sooner you catch problems starting to form, the faster, easier, and less expensive it will be to correct them.
This can prevent long-term damage and complications to your dental implants as well as your teeth, gums and jaw.
You’ll also be able to enjoy peace of mind with regular checkups. That means less stress, which is great not just for oral health, but for full-body well-being.
With Proper Care, Your Dental Implants Can Last Many Years.
You now know all about dental implants and the advantages they can offer over methods like bridges and dentures.
How long do dental implants last? As long as you make them. With proper oral care and a nutritious, healthy diet, it is possible for dental implants to last well over a decade.
Still have questions about dental implants? Just let me know in the comments below.