Dental implants are an investment, so it’s natural to have a number of questions before you make a commitment. One concern many patients have is, “how long do dental implants last?” They want to make sure that dental implants are worth the cost involved. Unfortunately, answering this question is complicated because different parts of an implant-based restoration have different expected lifespans.
Understanding Dental Implants
First, it’s important to understand what we mean by the term dental implants. For those of us in dentistry, this phrase refers only to the fixture that is placed into the jaw to support a restoration (a denture, crown, or bridge), but outside of the dental profession, it's more typical to refer to both the restoration and the implant post as a "dental implant."
Dental implants are used to replace the roots of lost teeth, whereas restorations are used to replace the part of the tooth that is visible above the gum line. Depending on the type of implant-supported restoration you have, you may also need a third component, called an abutment, to attach your restoration to the implant. Mini dental implants and some same-day dental implant options do not require abutments.
How Long Will Dental Implants Last?
Your dental implants will be surgically implanted into the jaw to replace the roots of your teeth. After osseointegration (the fusing together of the jawbone and dental implants), your implants should be as stable as the roots of natural teeth. For most patients, dental implants will last a lifetime and never need replacement.
Of course, there are exceptions to this—most dental implants last decades, but not all do. Patients who ignore aftercare instructions, use tobacco products, have poor oral hygiene habits, or do not see the dentist on a regular basis for comprehensive oral evaluations and dental cleanings are more likely to suffer dental implant failure. That said, there are some cases when a dental implant fails with no clear explanation, but this is extremely rare.
How Long Do Dental Implant Restorations Last?
While dental implants can last a lifetime, the restorations that are supported by them do not. Your restorations can be damaged by grinding your teeth, clenching your jaw, chewing on ice, or using your teeth as tools to open packages. The material you choose for your crown, bridge, or denture also matters. If you use a high-quality material, you'll get results that not only look natural, but last for decades to come.
The restoration supported by your dental implant(s) should last for five to 10 years, but they have the potential to last considerably longer if you maintain proper oral hygiene and visit your dentist every six months for a dental checkup and cleaning. Restorations cannot get cavities, but they still need to be brushed and flossed thoroughly to remove the harmful bacteria that causes gum disease, one of the leading reasons for dental implant failure.