How long do dental implants last?
(BChD Dip.Imp.Dent.RCS(Eng) (Adv.Cert))
Perhaps the most commonly asked question after “how much do implants cost?”, is “how long do implants last?” Fortunately, in the majority of cases, implants can last a lifetime.
There are hundreds of research papers spanning 5 decades that look at dental implant success rates and the commonly accepted success rate is at least 95%. With modern day implant technology and techniques, this figure is actually even higher.
Compared to other dental treatments that are aimed at filling a gap, dental implants come with a few key benefits.
Dental implants – the key benefits
- Dental implants are completely independent of the adjacent teeth and so, unlike a bridge which is supported by a tooth, there is no tooth preparation to do at all. Whenever we prepare or drill into a natural tooth, we damage it. This could mean that the tooth could require a root filling at some time in the future.
- Modern implant technology is now generated by computer assisted design and manufacture (CAD/CAM), so there is a high level of precision with fit. This makes implant dentistry more predictable.
- The only other alternative to fill a gap from a missing tooth is a denture. Dentures move during normal chewing function and are perhaps understandably not most patient’s first choice.
It is however important to be aware of a few factors which may influence the success of implant treatment.
Key factors that affect dental implant success
- Smoking – This is top of the list – smoking essentially affects the healing process so the longevity of implant treatment in smokers is always at risk. Smokers are also at greater risk to a form of gum disease called “peri-implantitis”, which causes bone loss around the implant and eventually the loss of the implant.
- Patient’s general medical health – Patients who suffer from diabetes or from a condition that affects their immune system are more likely to have problems. Certain medications such as systemic steroids, immuno-suppressants or drugs like Alendronic acid for osteoporosis, all affect bones from healing and so may affect the stability of an implant.
- Dental health – The current state of a patients dental health plays a huge role in determining the likely success of dental implants. Patients with gum disease are far more likely to develop peri-impantitis. This is why it is essential that gums are healthy or stable before treatment with implants is considered. Tooth decay as such cannot directly affect an implant, but if implants are placed in a mouth where decay is prominent, as the decayed teeth break down, the implants can get overloaded and cause problems. For the same reason, we also have to take extreme care in patients who grind or clench their teeth. When we assess our patients for dental implants, we never just look at the gap we are aiming to fill, we assess the whole mouth as it is key to the success of treatment.
- Complexity of treatment – A simple case where we are placing a single tooth implant and there is already a lot of bone to place it, will obviously be more predictable than a case where we are placing multiple implants and there is little bone to begin with and so grafting is required.
- After care – The aftercare program is critical to the long term success of dental implant treatment. Implants should be checked at least annually and we would recommend visits to hygienist every 3-6 months after treatment is completed. Without this level of surveillance, you may be blissfully unaware there is a problem until you have pain, or something becomes loose, by which point it may be too late.
Dental implant components
It is also important to understand that implant supported teeth are made up of several components. The “implant” is the artificial titanium root that the new teeth are anchored to. The worst case scenario is that the artificial root fails, but if this does happen – which is unlikely – it can usually be replaced. It is more common (although still unusual) that the teeth fixed to the implant chip or break, but this is no different to any other dental restoration. The good news is that implant supported teeth are designed to be repairable. They have to be – the mouth is a very harsh environment, so it is likely that some maintenance will be required. After all, you wouldn’t expect a new car to drive continuously day in, day out, year after year, and never need any repairs now and again.
When you come for your initial complimentary consultation at The Raglan Suite, we will assess all these issues so that we can give you a reasonable forecast of the success of your treatment. Dental implants do involve some surgery, so like any other elective procedure, you need to understand the benefits and risks, but this is where our expertise can help.
As a way to replace missing teeth, implants are without a doubt the gold standard. The good news is that in the vast majority of cases, we can predict very long lasting, successful and even life changing results.
Dr. Tim Doswell works exclusively in the field of implant dentistryat The Raglan Suite and is one of only a few implant surgeons in the north of England who has been awarded an Advanced Diploma in Implant Dentistry by the Royal College of Surgeons of England in London. Call 01423 565432 to book your free consultation with Dr. Doswell or contact us through our online enquiry form.