How Long Should Dental Implants Last?

Written by Virginia Surgical Arts on .
How Long Should Dental Implants Last?

Tooth loss can impact your daily life in more ways than you might expect. Many people with missing teeth experience jaw pain caused by misalignment of the jaw, shifting of other teeth, leading to new gaps, difficulty chewing, and low self-esteem.

Missing one or more teeth and trying to decide between tooth replacement options like implants, dental bridges, and dentures? While dental implants are by far the most natural, convenient, and permanent option, you might be worried that the process is painful or that your new tooth will not last forever. These myths prevent many patients from exploring the most life-changing option available to them: dental implants. While dentures can slip in and out, dental implants look, feel, and function like real teeth.

In many, many cases, we care for patients who chose dentures because the initial investment was less, they were afraid of pain or discomfort associated with implants, they believed common misconceptions about implants, or they did not want to invest in the time it takes to heal during the implant process. By the time they see us, they are overcome with remorse; their dentures are ill-fitting, causing them discomfort when speaking or chewing. The dentures also look unnatural or simply not functional, and they’re ready to move forward with implants.

The team at Virginia Surgical Arts can address your questions and concerns about teeth implants.

What are the Benefits of Dental Implants?

Dental implants offer benefits that no other tooth-replacement option can offer:

  • They function like natural teeth. You can brush, floss, and eat normally with a dental implant. You do not remove it or care for it differently. Most people cannot tell the difference between their real teeth and their prosthetic teeth when they choose this route.
  • They prevent your bone from receding. When you are missing a tooth, your jaw bone begins deteriorating in that empty space. In just one year, you will lose a quarter of your jawbone in empty space if you don’t have an implant placed. While dentures can expedite bone loss through wear and tear, dental implants stimulate the jawbone just like a natural tooth, preventing bone loss altogether.
  • They are compatible with future orthodontic treatments, including Invisalign. While the implant won’t move because it’s fused to the bone, orthodontic treatments can move the teeth around the implant without disturbing it.
  • They can help prevent orthodontic shifts. One missing tooth can cause all of the teeth to shift toward the opening. This can cause unwanted gaps in the front, make your bite uncomfortable, make it difficult to chew, or even lead to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues. Filling the gap with a dental implant can prevent shifting and subsequent consequences.
  • They can improve your self-confidence. Missing teeth and the bone deterioration that follows can lead to a hollow, sunken appearance – and fine lines and wrinkles.
  • They have a long lifespan. While dentures and bridges both require replacement from time to time, the titanium implant has the potential to last your entire life and the crown (the prosthetic tooth attached to the post) often lasts 15-20 years before replacement is required. With good oral hygiene and routine dental care, the longevity of dental implants is very good for patients that are in generally good health and that do no use tobacco.

Can Dental Implants Last Forever?

Yes! Dental implants are designed to last a lifetime and have that potential. After the titanium post is implanted in the jawbone, osseointegration takes place over the course of the next several months. That means that your jaw bone grows around, fuses with, and anchors the implant just like a real tooth. When ample time is allowed for osseointegration, your implant and your jawbone are permanently fused and the implant becomes a prosthetic root – a permanent solution.

Because osseointegration is so important, it is critical that you honor the healing process. It’s common to be eager to complete the process as quickly as possible, but following the timelines prescribed by your DMD after bone grafting (if applicable) and post-implant ensures long-term success.

The dental crown or artificial tooth attached to your implant may need to be replaced eventually, primarily due to normal wear and tear. While some crowns last a lifetime, 50-80% will require replacement after 15-20 years.

Dental Implant photo

How Often Do Dental Implants Need to Be Replaced?

In many cases, dental implants appear to not need replacement. As mentioned above, the artificial tooth that attaches to the implanted post does often require replacement after 15-20 years. Replacing the crown does not require a surgical procedure; it’s often done by a dentist (DDS) in your local dental office.

It’s important to note that teeth whitening does not change the color of an artificial tooth. If you have an artificial tooth in the front of the mouth, speak to your dentist before whitening your teeth. If you have an artificial tooth in the back of the mouth, it’s less likely to be noticeable if the color is a little darker than your other teeth after a whitening treatment. Although not many people choose to do it, you can replace the crown for aesthetic reasons.

Why Might Your Dental Implant Need to be Replaced?

Every surgical procedure is accompanied by some inherent risk. Implant surgery has a 95-98% success rate, which means that dental implant failure occurs in roughly 5% of cases. Although very uncommon, it’s important to seek treatment when dental implants fail.

Some of the most common reasons the artificial tooth root or titanium post would need to be replaced include:

  • you develop an infection around the implant
  • the implant becomes loose or falls out
  • a nerve was damaged during the implant procedure

Healthy patients are most likely to have a successful surgery. Factors that lead to a higher risk of failure include smoking, poor oral hygiene status, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and certain medical conditions like diabetes, malnourishment, or alcoholism. The team at Virginia Surgical Arts will complete a thorough evaluation to ensure you are a good candidate for the procedure before making a recommendation.

How Do You Know If You Need a New Implant?

The single easiest way to monitor your implant is to schedule regular dental check-ups. You should schedule a routine cleaning and exam at your dental office every six months (or more often if your dentist recommends it). This routine dental care promotes good oral hygiene, prevents and treats any gum disease early, and offers you the chance to ask questions about proper care.

You might need your crown replaced if it has broken. You might need your implant replaced if you notice any of the following:

  • severe and debilitating pain
  • mobility (the implant is moving)
  • your gums receding around the implant
  • pain or discomfort when chewing

The team at Virginia Surgical Arts will let you know what to expect while you heal, but dental implant procedures are not painful and the recovery should never cause severe pain. In many cases, it’s a tooth near the implant causing the problem. Your dentist will examine the surrounding bone, tissue, and teeth to determine the right course of action.  Also read: How Long Does Dental Implant Surgery Take? 

Choose Premier Dental Implants for a Long-Lasting Smile

Ready to do something for you? Don‘t wait! Connect with the team at Virginia Surgical Arts at (757) 430-7690 or complete the online contact form today. We’re here to answer your questions, ease your fears, and transform your smile!

Written By Virginia Surgical Arts

Our oral and cosmetic surgery facility in Virginia Beach serves all of Hampton Roads and offers oral/facial reconstruction, bone grafting, and facial and body rejuvenation. We are fully licensed and accredited. When you are ready to begin truly appreciating and evoking the real you, Virginia Surgical Arts is here–ready to work with you.