When considering tooth replacement options, dental implants are said to be the best. However, the process of getting dental implants is also slightly longer than other tooth replacement options, which can make people hesitant to go through with the procedure. At some point during the decision making process, most people want to know just how long dental implants last in comparison to other tooth replacement options.
To answer the question of how long dental implants last, we must first understand the basic structure of an implant-supported restoration. Implant-supported restorations are composed of three main parts: the implant screw, the abutment, and the restoration. The implant screw is the piece that is implanted into the jawbone and is not visible. The abutment is a metal connector that screws into the implant and extends out over the gum line. The abutment is also normally not visible as it is hidden below the restoration. The restoration is the dental prosthesis and is either a crown, bridge, or denture, depending on the number of teeth being replaced.
When considering how long an implant-supported restoration will last, all these parts must be considered, especially since they generally have different lifespans. For starters, the implant screw lasts the longest since it is fused within the jawbone and is not regularly subjected to things that can cause damage. The average lifespan of an implant screw is about 25 years, however experts are finding that more and more implant screws are lasting longer than this.
Although the implant screw itself lasts around 25 years, the other two parts of the implant do not last as long. This is mainly because they are more likely to become damaged and worn over time. In most cases, you can expect to replace the implant-supported restoration every 10-15 years. This is because the restoration will eventually wear down over time from the constant forces of biting and chewing. The abutment may also be replaced at this point as well, depending on its condition.
Still, there are a few factors that can affect the longevity of your implant-supported restoration. These include:
- Dental Materials: certain dental materials are stronger than others, so the type of material used can affect how long it lasts. However, the “strongest” material may not always be the best material, so be sure to discuss your options with your dentist.
- Type of Restoration: implant-supported crowns generally tend to last longer than implant-supported dentures because there is less pressure exerted on a single tooth than there is on an entire arch.
- Location: implant-supported restorations placed in the front of the mouth tend to last longer than implant-supported restorations in the back of the mouth because most of the chewing force affects the back teeth.
- Oral Habits: implant-supported restorations may not last as long in people who grind or clench their teeth because they will wear down faster. Not practicing good oral hygiene can also cause gum disease, which can cause jawbone deterioration and implant failure.
How Implant-Supported Restorations are Replaced
Now that we’ve looked at the basic structure of an implant-supported restoration and discussed the lifespans of its various components, you may be wondering how an implant-supported restoration is replaced. Given the fact that the implant screw lasts longer than the restoration, you may also be wondering how to replace one without replacing the other. Well, it is actually pretty simple.
The advantage of being composed of three different parts is that each part can be replaced individually. This means that as long as your implant is still fused to the bone and there is no jawbone deterioration from severe gum disease, then your dentist can replace the restoration without touching the implant screw. To do this, your dentist will simply remove the restoration from the abutment piece and then place a new restoration. In some cases, they may also unscrew the abutment and screw in a new abutment. However, both the abutment and the prosthesis can be replaced without the need for oral surgery.
Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry. He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.