Posted on 18th April 2018
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
A dental implant is used to support one or more false teeth. The implant itself is a small titanium screw that can replace the root of a tooth when the root fails. Implants and the new teeth they support have the possibility of lasting a patient many years – maybe decades. However, it is essential that good oral hygiene is maintained and the patient must attend regular check-ups. Those patients that keep up good habits are significantly more likely to have healthy implants for years to come.
The First Implant Patient
Implants have really risen in popularity in this century, but the technology has been around since the 1960s. The very first patient to have dental implants was a Swedish volunteer called Gosta Larsson. He passed away in 2006, his implants still in place, having used implant supported artificial teeth for over 40 years! The current trend for implants is in its infancy, so we don't yet have the data to know how long they will last. Longitudinal studies of implant patients have been capped at 20 years - further skewing the data as implants that last beyond that timeframe aren't included. However, the most important lesson to draw from the evidence is: implants that are properly looked after will continue to fulfill their function for a very long time.
Patients who have had implant treatment from the team at Norfolk Dental Specialists often report a significant improvement in their quality of life. A large part of everyone’s social life revolves around dining in company and chatting. If these two functions are impaired, then it is possible for a person to start to withdraw from social engagement. Restoring teeth can restore the confidence to fully engage in social activity again.
Overcoming Possible Problems
We are always honest with patients for whom implants are not an option - for instance when there is not enough healthy bone in the jaw. In these rare cases, the patient will be informed of alternative treatments. Beware dentists who promise a 100% success rate and new teeth that will last you the rest of your natural life. There are always possible problems that may prevent implants from integrating straightaway or even lead the procedure to fail. We’re always upfront about these possibilities.
- Peri-implantitis. A bacterial infection can build up around an implant, just as it can around a natural tooth (when it is called periodontitis). An annual inspection by one of our dental specialists allows us to keep an eye on the bacteria levels around your implants and offer treatments to reduce the infection before peri-implantitis can develop. Our hygienists can give you advice on effective techniques that will keep your implants healthy.
- Minor Alterations. Sometimes the implant will need some minor tweaks before it has settled sufficiently for a restoration to be applied. This is nothing to worry about.
- Restoration Damage. If they are not looked after properly, restorations such as crowns or bridges can be damaged in the same way that natural teeth are: through trauma or a build up of plaque or acid. Such damage can lead to the restoration or the implant failing. Post-implant appointments with our hygienists mean that our patients learn the good habits of oral hygiene that are necessary for sustaining implants.
- Failure to Integrate. In a tiny proportion of cases (less than 1%), the implant fails to graft to the jawbone. We will always spot an integration failure quickly, remove the implant and explain what alternative treatment options a patient can explore.
Because of the systems we have in place, the vast majority of our patients – in the high 90s per cent – will enjoy the life enhancement offered by implant surgery for years to come. You can read all about the transformative experience of implant treatment on the patient stories page of our website.
If you would like to know more about dental implants, download our pdf: ‘All You Need to Know About Dental Implants’ from the banner at the bottom of your screen. To book an appointment to discuss options for implant treatment, call our surgery on 01603 632525.
We can also answer any questions you may have on our Facebook page.