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How long do implants last?

Dental implants are one of the best replacement options for missing teeth people can choose these days! When choosing between dentures, bridges, or implants, we'd recommend implants if the patient is a suitable candidate.

So how long are they expected to last? Dental implants can last over 20 years when good care is taken and we've seen it happen at our office on many occasions! However, it is important to note that the lifespan of an implant and implant crown can vary greatly because there are so many factors at play - so let's break it down, shall we?

To begin with, implant failure can happen - but the good news is that it is rare. This would be something to discuss with your dentist directly, but in cases where there is a lot of inflammation (e.g. from lifestyle habits like smoking or improper home care), the bone that's supporting the implant can be damaged from the inflammation and cannot continue supporting the implant placement. In other cases, your natural bone has trouble growing around the implant to support it (a process called osseointegration), so it will also fail in this case.

Having certain underlying medical conditions and the use of some medications can also affect the success of an implant surgery. In terms of medical conditions, one example we can think of is periodontal disease - which affects gum health and the foundation upon which your implant should sit. If your gums are not healthy, it can negatively affect the outcome. If you've suffered bone loss in your jaw, it could also make you unsuitable for implants. So, if it hasn't been made clear enough, it is important to be pre-screened to see if you're a good candidate for implants or not. This screening process may involve extra scans that you don't get during a routine checkup and/or a recent x-ray but can help the assessment process immensely.

Assuming that the implant insertion went well, there are other factors which come into play when we consider the longevity of the dental replacement. Even after implant surgery, you still have to keep it up with the excellent oral home care - make sure to always brush and floss correctly. Even if the implant crown cannot become decayed like natural teeth, your gums are still living tissue that form the foundation of your restorative. Neglect your oral care and you not only risk losing your implant, but more of your natural teeth as well.

If you tend to be a jaw-clencher or teeth-grinder, this could also reduce the lifespan of your implant crown. As can a crown placement on a load-bearing tooth. Without getting into too much detail, let's say the top and bottom arches don't align properly - some teeth don't touch at all when you chew and other teeth always make hard contact with each other every time you chew. If you can imagine, when the force is unevenly distributed like this, any tooth (natural or crowned) taking the brunt of the force will have a short lifespan than other teeth. If you're grinding or clenching or just have a very heavy bite - you can see these factors as also reducing the lifespan of your natural tooth and/or crowned tooth.

It's worthwhile to note that if you're using your crowned teeth to crack open nut shells or opening beer bottles or biting down on ice and/or hard candy and such - abusing them, for lack of a better term - you'd also expect a shorter lifespan on those implant crowns! Please don't do this. Not with implants and certainly not with your natural teeth if you want them to last a long time!

These are just some of the possible scenarios that we've noted in our practice and every situation is different. So don't be afraid to ask our dentists when you are considering restorations - Ask about what your best options are and how to take care of them so they'll last as long as possible. Call our office to book your next appointment here: (416) 226-6688.


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