There are many questions that patients have about dental implants when they visit our office for a consultation. Some of these questions are easy to answer, while others are a little more complicated. “How long do dental implants last?” is one of the questions that falls into the latter category—it might seem like it should have a straightforward answer, but there are a number of factors to consider.
Understanding Dental Implants
First, we need to clarify what is meant by the term “dental implants.” For dental professionals, this term refers to the post that is implanted into the jaw in order to hold a restoration (a denture, crown, or bridge) in place, but outside of our profession, it’s common to refer to both the restoration and the implant itself as a dental implant.
The dental implants essentially replace the roots of your missing teeth, while the restorations are used to restore the portion of the tooth that is visible above the gum line. Depending on the type of implant-supported restoration you need, you may also have a third component involved called an abutment, which connects your implant and the restoration.
It’s important to understand each of these parts of an implant-based restoration because the different parts have different lifespans.
How Long Will Dental Implants Last?
The dental implant posts that are placed into the jaw are meant to be a permanent replacement for the roots of your missing teeth—in other words, they are designed to last a lifetime. After osseointegration occurs (the fusing of your jawbone and dental implants), your implants will have the same stability as a natural tooth root. In most cases, you will never need to have your dental implants replaced
Of course, there are some exceptions to this. Patients who don’t follow aftercare instructions, use tobacco, have poor oral hygiene, or don’t see the dentist regularly are more likely to experience dental implant failure.
How Long Do Dental Implant Restorations Last?
Although the dental implants themselves can last a lifetime, the restorations that attach to them tend to have a shorter lifespan. Habits like teeth grinding, jaw clenching, or using your teeth to open packages or chew on ice can cause damage to your restorations. The material you choose for your crown, bridge, or denture also makes a difference—invest in a high-quality material and you’ll not only have results that look realistic, but a restoration that stands the test of time.
You can expect the denture, bridge, or crown that is supported by your dental implant(s) to last about 10 to 20 years, but it’s common for them to last even longer than this if you have good oral hygiene habits and see your dentist every six months for comprehensive oral evaluations and dental cleanings. Even though implant-supported restorations can’t get dental caries, they still need to be flossed and brushed thoroughly to prevent gum disease, as this is a common cause of dental implant failure.