Dental implants have an incredible longevity attributed to the material they’re made from, titanium, and to how they are integrated into the bone. Clinical research shows survival rates as high as 94% over 10 years and 91% over 15, and these studies have led to new technologies and methods that have helped make dental implants longer lasting. For example, patients with bruxism or with low bone density can benefit from different dental implant techniques and supplemental procedures that continue to widen the spectrum of the ideal candidate for dental implants.
The Robust Durability of Dental Implants
As it turns out, the longevity of dental implants depends on various factors, including the type of dental implant, where the dental implant is placed, your oral health, and your habits. It also depends on what you mean by “dental implant.” To many people, the dental implant is the entire system: the fixture, the abutment, and the crown. Your dentist most likely defines it differently.
The dental implant is the fixture and the abutment. This is the long-lasting, titanium-alloy part of the system that’s affixed to your jawbone. This is what dentists are referring to when they say that it has a much higher success rate. The actual replacement tooth also called the final restoration, that’s attached to the dental implant will need to be replaced with normal wear and tear.
So how long do dental implants — the metal components that are surgically installed — last? The evidence shows: a long time, given clinical high long-term success rates.
The Longevity of an Osseointegrating Dental Implant: According to Science
Dental implants come in many types and sizes, and which one is right for you is something that Dr. Kovacevic will discuss during your initial consultation. The techniques employed depends on how many dental implants you’ll need and if you require and supplemental procedures. The osseointegrated titanium implant and its derivatives are the most common type of dental implant.
Hundreds of papers have been published investigating their lifespan and common complications but, luckily, we have an early review of the scientific literature by T. Albrektsson, et. al. (1986): The Long-Term Efficacy of Currently Used Dental Implants.
Their research showed that dental implant longevity depends on which jaw the dental implant is placed. Dental implants placed on the upper jaw had an 84 percent success rate and were healthy over a 12 year period. While dental implants on the lower jaw had a 93 percent success rate over the course of 12 years.
To give you an idea, the 5-year success rate for a mandibular implant is over 95%, and the 15-year rate only falls by four percentage points to 91% on average.
The Role Your Health Plays in Dental Implant Lifespan
The success rate depends on various factors. Before placing your dental implant, Dr. Kovacevic will measure the density of your jawbone. The jaw holds your teeth in place and there’s a symbiotic relationship between it and the root of your teeth.
Every time you chew gum or eat food, your teeth are imparting force onto the jaw and this tears the tissue. This catalyzes the bone to regenerate and strengthen, much like a muscle after working out, and it’s part of the process of keeping your bone density strong and healthy.
When you lose a tooth, the stimulation your jawbone needs is no longer there and the bone will begin to lose density. You don’t always need a supplemental procedure, like a bone graft, if your jaw has lost density, but depending on the severity of the bone loss it can really pay off.
In a 2014 study, Goiato, et. al., found that the survival rate of dental implants can depend heavily on bone density.
They tested dental implant success rates for four bone qualities: type I, type II, type III, and type IV. Type 1 is the densest, most well-protected, and type 4 the least.
These are the survival rates they found:
- Type I: 97.6%
- Type II: 96.2%
- Type III: 96.5%
- Type IV: 88.8%
New dental implant technologies, like the ones we use in our dental office, can improve these success rates. The surface of a dental implant can be treated in many ways and how it’s treated can make a big difference in its longevity, and surface-treated implants can be used in patients with low jawbone density. Dr. Kovacevic will discuss the most effective options for your specific needs during your consultation.
The lifespan of a dental implant depends on your oral hygiene routine and how closely you follow the aftercare instructions. Gum disease affects the tissue that holds your teeth in place, so if you’re not taking care of your oral health and you’re creating an environment that can encourage periodontal problems and the longevity of your dental implant will be cut short.
What About Habits Like Jaw Clenching?
Much like how your oral well-being can play an important role in how long your dental implants last, so can habits like bruxism (teeth grinding and jaw clenching).
In a 2014 paper, Torcato, et. al., reviewed the clinical research and found that, in general, patients who grind their teeth or clench their jaws suffer from higher dental implant failure rates than those that don’t, although overall the total number of failures was low for both groups.
If you grind your teeth at night that’s not a reason to panic. Just make sure your dentist is aware of the issue before they plan your dental implant procedure.
For example, it’s common to use a wider fixture to better latch onto the jawbone, or Dr. Kovacevic can use a different type of fixture altogether. Otherwise, a night guard might be recommended, especially for the period immediately following the dental implant procedure.
How to Make Sure Your Dental Implant Lasts a Very Long Time
We know that different factors can play a big role in the survivability of your dental implants, including:
- Where the dental implant is placed
- Bone density
- Oral health
- Oral habits
With proper care, 90 percent of patients will continue to experience the benefits of dental implants beyond 15 years. By brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, daily, and scheduling regular appointments with Dr. Kovacevic, you can ensure your dental implants are in the best of health for endless smiles to come.
What if your conditions are less than ideal?
During your initial consultation, you’ll discuss your smile goals and Dr. Kovacevic will fully examine your oral health to ensure we’re doing everything we can on our end to ensure the success of your new smile. At our dental office, we offer supplemental procedures that can increase the success rate of your dental implants and Dr. Kovacevic will mention any concerns following your examination.
Be sure to arrive at your consultation with any questions or concerns you may have so we can address them prior to your procedure. We want your dental implant experience to provide you with the stability and durability that’s expected after the surgery.
There’s no better option for replacing missing teeth than dental implants.