Dental implants are an investment in both time and money. Just like a car, furniture, or any other item that has a significant price tag, it’s understandable that you’d want to know how long dental implants last before making the investment, but the answer to this question is a bit more complicated than you might expect.
What Are Dental Implants?
When most people outside of the dental profession talk about dental implants, they use the term to refer to a wide range of restorations for missing teeth. “Dental implants” could mean a single tooth restoration or an All-on-4 restoration that replaces an entire arch of teeth.
A more accurate definition of dental implants is that they are the posts or screws that are placed into the jaw to support a restoration; you might even think of them as replacements for the roots of your missing teeth. In addition to the dental implant and the restoration, there’s usually a third piece, called an abutment, that connects the implant and restoration.
In short, only the implant posts themselves are actually dental implants. The crowns, bridges, and dentures that attach to them are restorations. Each of these components has a different expected lifespan.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
Dental implants have up to a 98 percent success rate and are designed to last a lifetime. Once osseointegration occurs—the process in which your dental implants and your jawbone fuse together—your implants are permanent. You won’t have to worry about replacing them or going through the dental implant process again in a few years’ time.
This doesn’t mean that your implants can never be compromised, though. The roots of the teeth are also meant to be permanent, but just as you lost your tooth and needed an implant, you can also lose your implant. While failed osseointegration is the most common cause of implant failure, peri-implantitis is an infection that attacks the implant and bone surrounding it. You may be at higher risk for this if you smoke, have certain medical conditions, have oral habits like teeth grinding, or don’t practice good oral hygiene.
How Long Do Dental Implant Restorations Last?
Your dental implants will last a lifetime, but what about the restorations attached to them? The average restoration will last 10 to 20 years, but it’s not uncommon for them to last even longer with regular dental visits, diligent oral hygiene, and good overall habits.
Just like your natural teeth, restorations need to be brushed and flossed; while they can’t get cavities, the restorations that attach to dental implants can leave you susceptible to gum disease if they’re not cared for properly, which can compromise your dental implant and any neighboring teeth.
Learn More About Dental Implants
Are you considering dental implants to restore one or more missing teeth? Do you have questions about the process? If you’d like to learn more about getting dental implants, contact us today at 212-222-5225 to schedule a consultation at Smiles on the Upper Westside.