Dental implants are one of the greatest innovations of modern dentistry. They are true prosthetic replacement teeth, consisting of an artificial titanium tooth root with a porcelain crown attached. Over 3 million Americans have dental implants, and that number is increasing by 500,000 people per year (source). With dental implants becoming a more and more popular solution to replace missing teeth, it’s fair to ask: how long do dental implants last?
The short answer is that dental implants can last a lifetime. Here’s the long answer.
Anyone who has had to have a crown or a bridge replaced or dentures re-fitted knows that not all dental restorations last forever. These three types of restorations can each fail for their own reasons. In the case of crowns and bridges, they can fail if the original tooth structure they’re attached to gets compromised due to decay. Most dentures eventually need to be refitted or replaced when bone loss causes the jaw to change shape.
Luckily, if you get dental implants, you don’t have to worry about the same risks. One of the reasons that implants are considered the best and most advanced option for replacing missing teeth is they are not subject to the same failure problems as standard crowns, bridges, or dentures. That isn’t to say that dental implants work perfectly all the time, but recent studies have shown that dental implants have a 98% success rate (source).
Many dentists conservatively estimate that implants will last about 25 years. The reason we can’t guarantee they’ll last a lifetime is there haven’t been very many long-term studies of dental implants yet.
Dental implants in their modern form were invented a little more than 50 years ago. In 1965, a Swedish scientist named Per-Ingvar Brånemark placed the first dental implant in the mouth of a man named Gösta Larsson. When Larsson died in 2006 at the age of 75, his original implants were still in place. They had lasted over 40 years!
Just like your natural teeth, the health and longevity of a dental implant depend on looking after your oral health. Dental implants are cared for just like natural teeth with daily brushing and flossing and regular dental checkups. Smoking can make it much more likely for dental implants to fail, as can pre-existing gum disease (periodontal disease). These health factors should be taken into account before a patient decides to have dental implants placed. If you’re interested in replacing missing teeth with dental implants, come see us and start a conversation!