Will My Dental Implants Last?
When you lose a tooth, whether it gets knocked out during a pick-up game or it becomes infected to the point where it has to be removed, just for example, your first inclination is probably to replace it as quickly as possible. After all, you don’t want an unsightly gap in your smile, you want to preserve the overall structure of your mouth, and of course, having all your teeth is preferable from a functional standpoint, i.e. chewing.
You’ll be confronted by several potential options for tooth replacement, including a bridge, where a false tooth is anchored to surrounding teeth, a denture, which is a removable false tooth held in place with temporary fixative, or a permanent dental implant. From the price alone, you might balk at the dental implant, but the truth is, there are many benefits to be gained by choosing this option, not the least of which is longevity. What are dental implants and how long will they last?
What, Exactly, are Dental Implants?
Dental implants consist of a titanium screw that is implanted deep into the jaw, topped by a crown, or false tooth, that fits perfectly with your natural smile to preserve the alignment of your teeth and your bite. Dental implants are the closest to natural teeth not only in appearance, but more importantly, in function.
This starts with the titanium post, which mimics the roots of your natural tooth. Because titanium bonds with the bone, it not only provides a sturdy anchor for the false tooth above, but it also prevents the bone loss common after a tooth is lost. You will not get this benefit with any other type of tooth replacement.
In addition, this free-standing tooth will function nearly the same as your missing natural tooth. Unlike dentures, for example, it is firmly and permanently held in place. It won’t be dislodged by drinking hot beverages, biting an apple, or chewing a tough piece of steak. Unlike a bridge, it is not attached to surrounding teeth, which means it is easy to brush and floss around.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
Generally speaking, dental implants can last a decade or more with proper care. If all goes well, the titanium post will last a lifetime (and beyond). Once it bonds with your jaw, you can reasonably expect it to last for the rest of your life, barring other issues like the jaw itself weakening.
The crown affixed to the permanent post is not quite as long-lived, but most crowns hold up well to standard wear and tear for anywhere from 10-15 years or longer with proper care. This is similar to other types of tooth replacement, which may prompt you to wonder why you would spend more on a dental implant.
First of all, you’ll never again have to pay the full price for dental implant replacement – you’ll only ever have to replace the crown. When something goes wrong with bridges or dentures, you may have to pay full costs again to replace them wholesale. In addition, you’ll gain a lot more benefits from dental implants. In other words, you get what you pay for.
Proper Care for Dental Implants
There’s really no telling exactly how long your dental implants will last, but proper care can help you to get the longest life out of your crowns. Luckily, dental implants allow you to continue with your regular oral care regimen, perhaps with a couple of tweaks to account for the difference between natural tooth and crown materials.
You can brush, floss, and even rinse with mouthwash just as you would with natural teeth, but you may need to swap a few products. Abrasive toothpaste, for example, could compromise the protective coating on your false tooth over time, potentially opening the door to staining, as well as bacterial buildup.
You’ll also want to skip whitening products. They could not only harm your false tooth, but they will brighten your natural teeth while leaving crowns the same color. You’ll need to avoid products containing fluoride as they could corrode titanium.
Finally, you’ll want to avoid chewing hard objects like ice, hard candy, and so on. This will help to protect both natural and false teeth from cracks, chips, and other damage. Dental implants are not indestructible, but with proper care, they can last a very long time and provide you with confidence and peace of mind for years to come.