It’s no secret that dental implants require a financial investment. One dental implant can cost several thousand dollars, so most patients want to know how long the implant will last.

Is their investment going to be worth it? Will they need to replace the implant in the future?

Dental implant lifespan

Single dental implant in parts next to natural teeth

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

There are several types of dental implants, but the most common are the traditional implant and the mini implant. The life expectancy for each is different.

Traditional dental implants can last a lifetime. Once the implant has been integrated into the bone through a process called osseointegration, there is very little chance of the implant failing. In fact, they have a 98% success rate.

Mini implants can last just as long as traditional ones if they are cared for properly. The difference is that mini implants are often used when there is not enough bone to support a traditional implant. If the bone continues to resorb, the mini implant has a chance of failing.

What factors affect dental implant longevity

The biggest factor in the longevity of a dental implant is the patient. Personal health conditions and oral habits are significant in determining the success of an implant.

Implant components quality

The abutment and crown connect to the implant. To help ensure success, these components should not be placed too soon after the implant surgery. “Loading” the implant before it has integrated with the bone will cause micro-movements, which will create mobility.

The crown must be fabricated in a way that does not place extra pressure on the implant. Your dental provider must check the bite and make sure all the teeth are touching evenly. Too much force on just the implant will cause it to fail.

Low bone density

As we mentioned earlier, a low bone density can lead to implant failure. Implants should only be placed when there is adequate bone to support them. Bone grafts and tissue regeneration can aid in building the area before the implant is inserted.

Location of implant

Dentists use 3D images, called CBCTs, to determine where to place the implant. They look at the surrounding bone, as well as any nerves and arteries in the area. This helps them plan the surgery and prevent any complications. However, if an implant is placed too close to another implant or a tooth, this could cause a failure.

Dental specialist skills

Not too long ago, only specialists were performing dental implant surgeries. Now, it is common for general dentists to do them as well. They are required to complete additional training, but a dentist who is new to implants will not have the same skill level as more experienced or educated dental providers.

Poor oral hygiene

It’s true that an implant can’t decay, but they do still have to be properly maintained. Brushing and flossing an implant is necessary. Poor oral hygiene and maintenance will lead to peri-implantitis, an infection around the implant. This must be treated quickly, or the implant will be lost.

Bad habits

Poor lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking can lead to implant failure, especially during the recovery period. Smokers are not ideal candidates for implants and will not have as high of a success rate as non-smokers. This remains true even after the implant has healed.

Once the implant and crown are finished, you should still treat them with care. Chewing hard, sticky, or chewy foods will cause the crown to break down over time. You should never use any of your teeth, including implants, as a tool to tear open packages, jars, etc.

Medical conditions

People with periodontal disease, also called gum disease, should be treated and in a stable condition before getting an implant. Periodontal disease infects the gums and destroys the bone. If left untreated, it leads to tooth mobility and tooth loss.

Uncontrolled diabetes can also cause dental implant failure. A new dental implant will not be able to heal.

There are some medications that will impede the implant from healing. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are at the top of this list. SSRIs are taken for depression and will cut the implant success rate in half. Other medications like painkillers, osteoporosis prescriptions, autoimmune medications, chemotherapy for cancer, and recreational drugs have the same effect.

When does a dental implant need to be replaced?

Dental implant vs. natural tooth with nerves

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

You should continue to see your dentist for regular check-ups after you get your dental implant. They will take measurements at every appointment to make sure the implant is still in good shape. If they notice the measurements begin to increase, this is a sign of infection and bone loss. At that point, the implant will need to be treated for peri-implantitis or possibly removed altogether.

If an implant crown breaks, it should be replaced as soon as possible. The implant crown is not expected to last as long as the implant itself. However, they can still last a very long time - for 20 years or more.

FAQ

Do dental implants last forever?

The dental implant itself, the part that screws into the jawbone, can last a lifetime. The crown portion, on the other hand, might need to be replaced every 15-20 years.

Are there any more durable options for teeth replacement than dental implants?

No, dental implants are the most durable tooth-replacement option. Alternatives like bridges and partial dentures will break down much faster.

Do dental implants have warranties?

The dental implant itself does not come with a warranty, but most dental providers offer some type of “in-house” warranty that they abide by. You should check with your dentist to find out how to keep your warranty in place. Many require that you keep your routine exams and cleanings for the warranty to remain valid.

References

  1. Longevity of teeth and implants - a systematic review - PubMed
  2. Longevity of Teeth and Dental Implants in Patients Treated for Chronic Periodontitis Following Periodontal Maintenance Therapy in a Private Specialist Practice: A Retrospective Study with a 10-Year Follow-up - PubMed
  3. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and the Risk of Osseointegrated Implant Failure - NCBI