How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

If you are missing one or more teeth or facing tooth loss, your dentist has probably suggested dental implants as the best option to replace them. But how long do dental implants last?

In This Guide

The answer to this question depends on number of factors including the patient’s lifestyle and approach to dental hygiene, such as: how frequently they brush, floss and visit a dentist.

Advances in dental implant technologies have greatly reduced the risk of failure due to rejection or functionality issues, but pre-existing medical conditions, a medical condition that develops after implant placement and misuse of implants are factors that can still cause an implant to fail.

In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of the scientific studies that have been published about the lifespan and explore the risk factors in more detail.

How Long Should a Dental Implant Typically Last?

An implant can last a lifetime as long as they are maintained with good oral hygiene including proper brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist twice a year.

The restoration on top of the implant (see right) such as a crown, bridge or implant supported denture generally need generally need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years due to normal wear and tear.

While treatment is usually highly successful (statistics and percentages can be found below), it’s impossible for a highly experienced dental professional to provide a 100% guarantee against failure.

This is because there are so many factors that can impact the outcome of treatment which are beyond the control of a dentist. These include: a person’s diet and nutrition, their oral hygiene, their overall health and lifestyle and even their genetics.

History of Dental Implants

The first titanium implant was placed in a human volunteer in 1965 by Brånemark whose patient Gösta Larsson had a congenital jaw deformity. Larsson received four implants, allowing a new set of teeth to be fixed onto the implants. This was the first time he had ever been able to eat and talk normally. When Larsson died in 2006, his implants had provided him with more than 40 years of trouble-free use.

Dental Implants vs Other Tooth Replacement Options

When properly maintained, they should last for many years and if fitted in patients over the age of 45, they typically last for life. The implant restoration (crown) will need to be replaced periodically due to wear and tear, but the implant post should be permanent as it is firmly fused into the jawbone. Exceptions include circumstances that cannot be avoided such as accidents and disease.

This compares very favorably with other tooth replacement options. For example, a dental bridge that is supported by natural teeth will typically need to be replaced every 5 to 7 years. Some people may be able to extend the life of their bridge to 10 or more years provided they have excellent oral hygiene and visit their dentist regularly.

People with dentures will find they last between 5 and 8 if correctly maintained. However, during this time dentures can wear out and they may feel loose due to shrinkage in the jawbone and in the gum tissue. It is possible to have dentures relined, where the fitting surface is lined with new acrylic material to fit more accurately to the gums, but eventually, they will need to be remade.

7 Factors That Affect the Success Rate

Generally, dental implant treatment has a success rate of 95% or higher. However, there are several factors that can affect this rate.

The main factor is age, particularly amongst patients in the 60 to 79 year age group where there is a significantly higher risk of implant failure. This may be due to increased risk of disease and medical problems, and older people frequently need to take medications that may affect their oral health.

In spite of this, patients who are missing teeth and are over the age of 60 can often significantly benefit from treatment, particularly implant supported overdentures. Techniques such as All-on-Four can be particularly successful as the implants are placed near the front of the mouth where the bone is stronger, thicker and more able to support them.

Factors that can affect the chances of success include:

1) Dentist’s Skill & Experience

A specialized oral surgeon or implantologist who has completed thousands of procedures will typically have a greater chance of performing the pre-screening, surgical and aftercare processes successfully than the local dentist who has done a handful of implants in their lifetime.

2) Location in the Mouth

The location of the implant in the mouth is another factor that can influence its longevity. An implant near the back of the mouth receives greater strain from chewing food compared to an implant near the front of the mouth. This can reduce its overall lifespan.

3) Periodontal Disease

People who have a history of periodontal disease are more likely to suffer from complications after treatment, including peri-implantitis and peri-implant mucositis. These diseases are similar to periodontal disease and can destroy the tissues surrounding implants. Without prompt treatment, they may lead to implant failure.

4) Bruxism

Untreated bruxism, a condition where people clench and grind their teeth, can place implants under too much stress and can also lead to their failure.

5) Smoking

Smoking is a known risk factor for implant failure but it isn’t necessarily a contraindication for treatment. However, a clinical study has shown that using tobacco involves a 15.8% risk of failure. In people who smoke in excess of 20 cigarettes per day, this risk increases to 30.8%. The problem with smoking is that it increases the risk of a disease called peri-implantitis and which is similar to gum disease as well as the risk of bone loss in the jaw.

If someone who smokes is interested in implant treatment, it is essential for their dentist to obtain their smoking history that includes the duration and the frequency of smoking, both in the past and in the present. Smokers wishing to undergo treatment are strongly urged to give up for at least the duration of treatment.

If someone cannot quit smoking completely, they are advised to stop one week before surgery and to cease smoking for two months after implant placement. This will give the implant post a greater opportunity to Osseo integrate or bond with the surrounding bone without smoking interfering with the healing process.

Smoking does increase the risk of complications and it reduces the success rate of treatment. If you do smoke, your implant dentist is likely to decide if you are suitable for implant treatment based on your personal history and current tobacco usage. They will ensure you are fully aware of the risks created by smoking, as well as the potential risks for continuing smoking after treatment.

Studies on the Effects of Smoking
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17274726
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3894084/

6) Diabetes

People who have well-controlled diabetes may be suitable for implants. The documented survival rate for implants in diabetic patients is lower than for the general population, but success rates are still reasonable.

Generally, the increase in failure rates tends to occur during the first year after placement, after the implants have been loaded with the implant restorations. Using antibiotics, chlorhexidine mouth rinse and dental implants with a greater diameter and an increased length of implant post seem to help improve survival rates in patients with diabetes.

Survival rates are also improved by using bioactive material coated implants which help aid Osseo integration with the surrounding jawbone. These implants are specially coated with bioactive materials to help encourage the growth of new bone cells.

If you are diabetic and are considering treatment, it’s well worth discussing this option with your dentist. They will be able to advise you on your personal level of risk for this treatment through assessing your average glucose levels over the previous 2 to 3 month period.

Dental implants can be a wonderful treatment for restoring lost teeth, especially given the potential longevity of implant teeth. Even if you have one or more of the risk factors outlined above, it is still worth having an initial consultation with your dentist.

An experienced implant dentist will decide each patient’s suitability on a case-by-case basis and after discussing your dental and general health can advise you more fully on the potential risks and benefits of this procedure.

Studies on the Effects of Diabetes
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11203576
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3961886/

7) Implant Misuse

Biting or chewing on hard objects such as pencils and pencils and opening things with your teeth can damage the implant crown.

Other Studies & References

What to Read Next

Over to You

We’re interested to know – if you have implants, how long have you had them so far? Have you had any problems (minor or serious) during that time? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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