How Long Does a Dental Implant Last, and What Affects It?

If you’re considering investing in permanent teeth replacement, one of your primary concerns would be how long does a dental implant last. 

The answer to this question can be given in simple numerical terms, in that we can provide you with a numerical representation of the ‘average’ lifespan of dental implants, but in practice, the answer to this question is multifaceted. The longevity of implants hinges on several factors.

In this blog, we will explore all such factors so that you may get a complete picture of dental implants’ longevity, not just surface level information about this subject. We’ll also recapitulate on the basics of dental implants.

What Are Dental Implants?

Let’s go over the basic definition of dental implants before diving into what affects their longevity.

Dental implants are a permanent teeth replacement option. Basically, they refer to cylindrical metallic posts that are fixed into the jawbone of an edentulous person (i.e a person lacking teeth). These metallic posts are drilled into the jawbone by means of a minimally invasive surgery, where small incisions are made into the gums to access the jawbone and make space for implants therein. 

Once this procedure is done, the implants are securely anchored into the jawbone, where they substitute the once-present (but now absent) natural tooth roots, thereby replicating 2 important functions of natural tooth roots:

  • Providing a sturdy foundation for the attachment of artificial teeth.
  • Stimulating the surrounding bone to help preserve its volume and density.

Therefore, the structure of a full-mouth dental implant can be said to extend to 3 parts:

  1. The implant fixture – the cylindrical metal posts that we’ve just referred to.
  2. The abutment – the connector pieces that join the implants with the artificial tooth.
  3. The prosthesis – the artificial teeth.

How Long Do Dental Implants Typically Last?

Typically, on average, dental implants can last anywhere from 10-30 years. This is an extremely varied range, and is so because the conditions in which implants are placed in each individual patient are highly varied, too. 

The good news is that implants have the potential to last a lifetime if you take proper care of them. Note that it’s the metallic posts (implant fixtures) that have this exceptional durability potential, and can last a lifetime, but the abutments and crowns would need replacement after every 10-15 years.

According to a study that assessed the survival rate of dental implants in different patients over the course of 3, 5,10 and 15 years, the cumulative survival rates were found to be 98.9%, 98.5%, 96.8%, and 94.0%, respectively. Notice that there’s no drastic difference in these percentages despite them being calculated several years apart from each other. Even the 94% survival rate, calculated over 15 years, is a pretty good figure and speaks for the durability of dental implants.

What Affects The Longevity Of Dental Implants?

As we mentioned above, there are several factors that affect the longevity of dental implants, which also explains their varied average lifespan. These factors include:

Patient’s Oral Hygiene

For logical reasons, a Patient’s oral hygiene significantly influences the longevity of dental implants. 

Patients with poor oral hygiene put their implants at risk of developing implant infections, which may lead to implant failure if left untreated. 

On the other hand, patients who follow a proper oral care routine (who brush at least twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush, floss after every meal, and use antibacterial mouthwash) will prevent their implants from bacterial invasion and resulting infections. This will lead to improved oral health and increased implant lifespan.

Patient’s Lifestyle And Dietary Habits

Just as your natural teeth are influenced by your lifestyle and dietary habits, your implants are affected by them, too. Certain lifestyle and dietary habits have a very deteriorating effect on implants’ longevity. This includes chain-smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and intake of sugary foods and drinks. 

Smoking and drinking compromise your immune system, thereby restricting implant healing and osseointegration. Sugary foods and drinks, on the other hand, make your teeth prone to decay. All of these consequences can jeopardise the health of your implants and decrease their longevity; hence, they should be avoided.

Additionally, habits like teeth grinding and ice-chewing are also detrimental to your implant strength as they put excessive force on the implants. Hence, these habits should also be kept under control if you want your implants to last long.

Patient’s General Health And Jawbone Health 

For long-lasting implants, the patient receiving them should be healthy enough to withstand the healing process that follows the surgery. They should also have enough jawbone to support proper osseointegration (integration of the jawbone with the implants). 

Implants placed in people with chronic health conditions (such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders and osteoporosis) will have difficulty in healing and fusing with the jawbone, which will affect their longevity. Therefore, such patients should seek professional medical treatment to manage their chronic conditions and should consider getting bone grafts to make up for their jawbone bone deficiency. This will ensure that their implants last long.

Dentist’s Skill And Expertise 

Implant placement surgery is an intricate one, and its success heavily depends on the skill and expertise of the surgeon performing it. This, in turn, affects the longevity of the dental implants placed as well. 

A well trained and expert dentist will perform the surgery ensuring that all the hygiene and safety protocols are being followed, which prevents unanticipated complications. They’ll also ensure correct implant placement (with precise angulation and positioning), resulting in implant success and longevity. 

Conclusion 

While dental implants last for 10-30 years on average, the specific duration of longevity of implants in a particular case depends on several contextual factors. These factors include the patient’s oral hygiene, their dietary and lifestyle habits, their overall jawbone health, and the skill and expertise of the dentist performing the implant surgery.

If you’re looking for highly professional and expert implant surgeons, book a FREE consultation with Houston Implant Clinic, a premium clinic located in Houston, Texas. We have a team of specialised implant surgeons whose expertise can lead you to a hassle-free, successful and long-lasting dental transformation.

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