Dental implants are used to replace missing teeth and can completely restore a person’s smile and confidence. When you also consider that missing teeth can lead to structural shifts within the jaw bone, make it more difficult to chew, and lead to difficulties with speech, however, it’s clear that this procedure is much more than just cosmetic.
While they can be effective at preventing various oral health conditions and are a great choice for replacing teeth that have been lost, many people wonder if dental implants have an expiration date and if they ever need to be replaced. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of implants and find out how long they’re expected to last.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are artificial roots that act as a strong base for replacement teeth. Unlike dentures and bridges, implants function, feel, and fit like your natural teeth. They’re made of medical-grade titanium that fuses to the bone.
This means that you don’t have to be concerned about slippage while eating or talking. It’s also what makes implants an ideal long-term tooth replacement solution. Dental implants include three key components: the implant, the abutment, and the crown. The implant functions as the root, which fuses to the jaw. The abutment is the connector that holds the artificial tooth in place. The crown is the actual tooth replacement.
There are several benefits of dental implants:
- They look and feel extremely natural
- They reduce the chances that you’ll experience bone loss
- They’re more durable and stable than dentures
- They can improve your speech and chewing power
As is the case with most procedures, dental implants also have their disadvantages. For instance, the process can take up to six months to complete. The procedure can be somewhat costly, even if your insurance does cover it. You may require additional procedures such as bone grafts. Also, while complications are very rare, there’s always a chance that your gums could become infected after you receive your implants. Still, most people feel that the pros of implants outweigh the cons.
Will They Last Forever?
Research has shown that dental implants can last up to 20 years before they must be replaced. This is considered a conservative lifespan since many people are able to keep the same dental implants for much longer.
However, some people experience failure within the first couple of years of their procedure. Two key factors play a huge role in the decline of dental implants: failed osseointegration and peri-implantitis.
Failed osseointegration is what happens when the bone does not integrate properly with the implant. You may not recognize it at first, but the tooth will eventually become wobbly and start to move as you talk or chew. If the implant has failed, the tooth will show signs of consistent movement.
Peri-implantitis is the result of gum disease, which means that you have deterioration in the bone supporting the implant. Eventually, the area around the implant will become infected and this will further damage the bone around your tooth. Your tooth will then start to loosen.
How to Make Implants Last Longer
Luckily, failed osseointegration and peri-implantitis can usually be prevented as they’re influenced by your oral hygiene and lifestyle choices. The key is to develop a consistent routine that ensures your implants will last for years to come. Here are a few helpful tips.
1. Get regular cleanings. It’s important that you treat your implants as you would your natural teeth and have them cleaned regularly. This is a great way to prevent plaque from building up around your gum line and causing gum disease.
2. Schedule regular checkups. Your dentist must monitor the progress of your dental implants. They can help to ensure that everything is functioning properly. X-rays play a huge part in preventive care. It’s best to get checkups at least twice per year.
3. Brush your teeth consistently. Specifically, it’s essential that you brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. You should use a low-abrasion toothpaste to help remove any plaque from on and between your teeth.
4. Floss regularly. Flossing is just as important as brushing and it should be done once a day. Make sure that you floss between your teeth and around your abutments. Waterpiks are a great option as they can get rid of the smaller bits of food that floss might not be able to reach. After you’re done flossing, make sure that you rinse your mouth with an antimicrobial rinse.
5. Pay attention to your implants. The patient is the first line of defense when it comes to spotting potential issues so it’s important that you monitor yourself. Pay attention to your teeth and how they look and function. Are you experiencing any discomfort or sensitivity in your gums? Are you having issues with your bite or having problems chewing? These are things that you need to notify your dentist about.
6. Avoid tobacco. Smoking has been known to cause tooth loss, bone loss, tissue loss, periodontal disease, peri-implantitis, and dental implant failure. These are all things that you need to avoid if you want your implants to last for a long time.
7. Avoid certain drinks and foods. Another important part of preserving your dental implants is to watch what you eat and drink. This includes food and drinks that contain a significant amount of sugar or acid. Soft drinks, citrus fruits, alcohol and more can all contribute to a build-up of plaque. The less you consume these foods, the better.
Learn More About Implants
While dental implants offer a long-term solution, they’re not guaranteed to last forever. However, the longevity of the procedure can differ from person to person based on their habits. How long your implants last will depend on how well you maintain them.
Ultimately, your goal should be to take care of your implants as you would your natural teeth. If you want to know more about how dental implants could benefit you, then get in touch with an experienced implant expert.
Dr. John Paul Gallardo is known in Miami for his expertise in placing dental implants and has been offering top-notch care to patients for decades. Call 305-547-8805 to schedule an appointment today.