If you’ve suffered from tooth loss, you probably want to know which dental restoration is the most permanent.

Getting a long-lasting, durable, and realistic-looking solution is easy today thanks to dental implant technology. Implants are the best solution for a long-term fix for damaged, decayed, and lost teeth. 

Designed to be long-lasting and easy to care for, they’re a good way to support oral health by preventing shifting and jaw tissue loss. 

As the closest option to a real tooth, they still have a few limitations you need to understand before having one or more added to your mouth.

Are Dental Implants Permanent?

Dental implants are designed to be a permanent replacement for missing teeth. 

However, there are a few conditions or complications that can lead to a shorter lifespan. Understanding how the implant works will help you grasp why the lifespan can vary for this dental care option.

There are three parts to the dental implant:

  • A titanium post, which is embedded into the jaw to mimic the strong attachment of a natural tooth root.
  • An abutment, the part of the post that protrudes above the gum line so that the upper part can attach.
  • A custom crafted tooth restoration attaching to the abutment for a natural-looking and easy to clean replacement.

Since the titanium post is designed to fuse with the jawbone through a process known as osseointegration, this makes it a permanent solution. 

But the actual lifespan of the dental implant is a little more complicated and can vary based on your underlying oral health and secondary conditions.

Not All Implants Last Forever

Implants are the most permanent dental restoration option for filling in where teeth have gone missing. Yet the actual longevity of the implant will vary depending on your health. 

Some patients who get dental implants can expect them to last the rest of their lifetime. Others will need to prepare for the potential of repair and replacement over time, as with any other type of dental restoration.

In general, the titanium post and the abutment tend to last for a lifetime. It’s the restoration on top that takes more wear and tear over your lifetime and may need to be replaced eventually. 

If there is an issue with the post, it’s likely to happen in the beginning and can be addressed by further oral surgery or treatments to encourage osseointegration. 

Once the post bonds to the jaw tissue, it’s usually a permanent attachment. Only accidents and trauma could cause a detachment at that point. As long as you take care of the implant, you should only need to have the restoration worked on in case of minor damage.

But restoration options that sit on top of the abutment will likely need replacing. Crowns, the most common restoration, typically need to be replaced every 15 to 20 years. 

Other options to replace missing teeth, like partial dentures and bridges, can have life spans ranging from as short as 3 years to as long as 10, but not much longer. 

Dental implants will outlast all of these, even for patients that eventually have to have some part of the implant replaced.

There can always be failures with any dental procedure, including dental implants. However, the majority of complications happen in the first few weeks after the initial installation. Once this initial health and osseointegration period passes, the success rate is as high as 98%. Even with the early survival rate factored in, overall success rates for dental implants range from 93% to 98%

While the majority of patients who choose a dental implant will enjoy it for a lifetime with no complications, not every implant can last forever.

What Causes an Implant to Fail?

There are a few factors that increase the chances of failure for a dental implant. These factors include:

  • Missing bone tissue in the jaw, which occurs when a tooth is missing for a long period and the jaw tissue naturally shrinks back.
  • A lack of routine dental care once the implant is in place, including brushing twice a day and flossing daily.
  • Grinding your teeth, which can be mitigated with carefully fitted night guards to prevent damage to the implant.
  • Smoking, even the use of vaping devices.
  • The use of many common medications like blood-thinners or immunosuppressants.
  • Underlying medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, or a weakened immune system.

What to Do with a Failed Implant?

There’s often no need to give up on dental implants just because of a failure. 

In many cases, we simply need to replace the implant, or just the part that is damaged.

 If the post fails to attach to the bone, we may recommend a bone graft to create more space for osseointegration.

When we suspect there may be reasons that the new implant won’t succeed either, we can always change to providing you with bridges or dentures instead.

If you’re noticing issues with the implant but it hasn’t failed yet, there’s a good chance we can treat the issue and prevent failure. 

A thorough cleaning around the implant and a course of antibiotics may be all that’s needed to save the implant. This resolves a condition known as peri-implantitis that often threatens the life span of an implant. 

If there’s damage to the restoration only, it’s a simple matter of creating a new custom piece and replacing the old one in a quick procedure.

Comparing Effectiveness: Implants vs Dentures and Bridges

Implants have a number of benefits over both bridges and dentures. 

First, dental implants outlast both of these removable dental restoration options in most cases. Unless you have jaw tissue issues that may prevent the proper osseointegration of the posts, dental implants will give you anywhere from 10 years to a lifetime of service. 

Dentures tend to last anywhere from 3 to 15 years before needing replacement, depending on whether they are full or partial designs. 

Bridges have a shorter lifespan, lasting between 3 and 8 years before needing repairs or replacement in most cases. 

Neither can last as long as the implant because they’re not attached to the jaw like your original teeth are. This means that the force of chewing is applied more directly to the restoration. 

Dentures show wear and tear or lose their ability to fit tightly to the gum tissue. Bridges will damage surrounding teeth that serve as anchors to them if they’re not routinely replaced. 

There are other disadvantages to choosing dentures and bridges as well, including a change in appearance as your jaw tissue shrinks and potential difficulties with speaking or eating. 

Dental implants allow you to avoid all of these problems at once.

Explore Getting Implants at Bunker Hill Dentistry

Bunker Hill Dentistry is your source for dental implant advice and consultations. We can assess your personal health and determine the life span you can expect from this kind of restoration work. 

Get in touch with us today to schedule your visit and or call us to learn more about the dental implant solutions we offer to our Houston patients.

Getting Implants at Bunker Hill Dentistry