Ask Dr. Parker: Are Dental Implants Permanent?

Published May 22nd, 2017   

Dental implants have been around for quite some time. In fact, Ingvar Brånemark, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon, invented the first dental implants in 1952. Branemark continued to study and refine his findings until they were presented at the 1982 Toronta conference.  Branemark’s work showing the clinical success of implants and introducing the concept of osseintegration was ground breaking.  Research has continued over the past 40+ years has proven to be a significant advancement in the field of dentistry.

Since dental implants look and feel just like your natural teeth, they can help improve your self-esteem and confidence. Many people who have spaces in their mouth due to lost teeth can smile with pride after they receive their dental implant.

Aside from the aesthetics of implants, they make it easier for you to speak and eat since the dentist secures them in your jaw with titanium posts. You don’t have to worry about your implant coming loose at the wrong time like dentures. Since they aren’t anchored to your other teeth, dental implants support your overall oral health.

There are dental implant alternatives, including mini-implants, dentures, and bridges. As a current or future tooth restoration patient, it’s prudent for you to learn about the advantages and drawbacks of each so you can make the best tooth replacement decision for your lifestyle and preferences.

Are Dental Implants Permanent?

How long does a dental implant last? You may have heard the lifespan of a dental implant is 25 years or more, which is true, as long as you take proper care of them. Whether dental implants last forever is influenced by a variety of factors, such as:

  • How well you take care of your dental implants, like daily flossing and brushing, seeing a dentist every six months.
  • Avoiding chewing or biting down on extremely hard items, like pen tips or pencils, and not opening things with your teeth.
  • How skillful your dentist is at placing your dental implant. Experts know how to evaluate the progress of osseointegration and whether your jawbone has completely absorbed the implant.
  • Your lifestyle and overall health.

How Long Do Teeth Implants Last If I Need a Bone Grafting Procedure?

Less than 10 percent of people getting dental implants need minimally invasive bone grafts to increase the strength and density of their jawbone. Loss of jawbone density is usually due to trauma, infections, diseases, or tooth loss. A bone graft is the ideal method of restoring jawbone health so you can enjoy the permanency of a dental implant.

There are four kinds of bone grafts for dental implants:

  • Autogenous Grafts: This is the most popular type of bone grafting technique and involves removing small bone grafts from your hip, where bones are marrow-rich and can supply plenty of bone cells.
  • Allografts: Instead of using bone from your own body, allografts rely on human donors to supply bone grafts.
  • Xenografts: This bone graft is not from a human source, but rather from an animal — usually a cow. It is completely compatible with your bone composition and anatomy.
  • Alloplastic Bone Grafts: Instead of using natural bone elements, alloplastic grafts are synthetic, calcium phosphate grafts that are resorbable or non-resorbable.

How Do I Know If I Need to Replace My Old Dental Implant?

You may never need to replace your dental implant as long as it doesn’t become loose, develop an infection or is damaged in some way. For optimal care, you should visit your dentist every six months for a regular check-up and to ensure your dental implant is healthy and functioning normally.

Are Dental Implants Successful?

According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), dental implants have a 95 percent average success rate, but their success depends on the location of your missing teeth and your health and lifestyle.

Since they penetrate the gum and jaw bone, some people, such as those who suffer from diabetes or smoke, might not be well-suited for implants. Before suggesting one or more permanent dental implant solutions, your dentist examines your teeth, jawbone and gums and lets you know if you’re a good candidate.

How to Know if Your Permanent Implant Needs to Be Looked At

Your dentist needs to examine your permanent dental implant in the event you have complications or the procedure has failed. Though this is unusual, knowing when to have a professional check your implant can offer peace of mind.

Complications

Although complications are rare and resolved easily, they can still happen. Even with the high success rate, teeth implant complications include:

  • Infection around your implant area, loose implant or an implant falls out.
  • Tissue or nerve damage causing numbness, pain or tingling in your gums, chin, lips or natural teeth.
  • Pressure on the area of your implant, which could cause the implant to fall out or fail.
  • Sinus problems due to implants touching sinus cavities, if your implants are placed in your upper jaw.
  • Peri-implantitis, where the surrounding bone and gum of your implant becomes inflamed due to bacterial infection or excessive biting forces. This condition, if left untreated, can cause you to lose your implant.

It’s important that you follow routine maintenance care at your home above after you receive your implants and follow-up with your dentist to avoid these issues.

During your dental implant process, your dentist examines your surrounding hard and soft tissues and uses special tools to remove any hard, calcified deposits that accumulate around your implant. They may adjust your bite if necessary to avoid the force of heavy biting, which could negatively impact your implant.

It can take several months for the entire healing process of your implant surgery since your bone has to heal firmly around your implant. This healing time might be longer if you have an infection in the root of your tooth or if you need a bone graft procedure.

Failure of the Dental Implant

Although usually made of titanium metal, there is still a chance your implant can break or bend. Thanks to advances in the materials and designs of implants, this doesn’t happen as often today as it did years ago. If your implant is exposed to excessive external forces, like grinding teeth or a blow to the face, it can fracture or crack.

In most cases, if your dental implant fails, it’s possible to save it provided you get to your dentist quickly.

Your dentist can build up the gum tissue and bone that surrounds your implant. Generally, the implant must be removed to allow the area to recover and heal. Then, your dentist can attempt a new implant when they feel the area is suitable again. You may require a bone graft, which works as a foundation and improves your implant success rate.

If your implant fails again, it could be an indication of an allergy or that your bone density is not sufficient for the implant, but, again, this would be extremely unusual.

Dental Implant Alternatives

Even though dental implants are the better and longer-lasting solution missing teeth restoration, you have other options available to you. A few to consider:

    • Mini Implants: 
      Mini implants are another teeth replacement option. They are only half the size of regular dental implants. Mini implants are more comfortable to place and less expensive. They are a faster procedure and require less hardware than traditional implants.If you’re looking to replace missing teeth due to decay, damage or age and can’t afford traditional implants, mini dental implants might be an ideal solution. Mini dental implants are a permanent tooth replacement option, but they are smaller in size, so your dentist only has to create small holes in your jawbone.Discomfort and recovery are minimal, and, just like traditional implants, the results are permanent. After your mini implants procedure, you can almost immediately get back to your regular dental hygiene routine.
    • Removable Implants With removable implants, you can snap your implants on and off as needed. Some benefits of removable implants include:
      • You can remove them whenever necessary, making cleaning easier.
      • They are more affordable option than permanent implants.
      • They can be better for those who have unhealthy gum tissue or a weaker jaw bone.
      • You are interested in replacing several missing teeth.

Non-Implant Alternatives

There are non-implant options for tooth replacement for you to consider, including various types of bridges and dentures:

    • A Tooth-Supported Fixed Bridge For a single tooth restoration, this is a common alternative to an implant. When you compare it with dental implants, however, there are a few disadvantages. Your dentist has to grind your adjacent, healthy teeth to attach and support the bridge. Since your natural bone underneath your bridge is not stimulated like dental implants, over time, it could deteriorate, which can change how your face and smile looks.This option doesn’t last as long as a bridge that is supported by implants, and it will require ongoing maintenance and care. With regular checkups and good oral hygiene, your fixed bridge may last more than ten years.
    • A Resin-Bonded Bridge This alternative is ideal for restoring front teeth that don’t typically bite and chew like your back teeth. There are wings on both sides so the dentist can attach it to your adjacent healthy teeth. However, it doesn’t require any grinding down or preparing of your other teeth. It functions and looks better than removable dentures but is not strong as a fixed bridge, and it doesn’t last as long as implants.On average, a resin-bonded bridge will last around seven to 10 years, depending on the size, condition, and strength of the teeth supporting it.
    • A Removable Partial Denture Removable partial dentures are designed for replacing multiple teeth, your bone and gums. They are not as strong and stable as dental implants and not as comfortable. You can wear your removable partial denture successful without it interfering with eating or speaking. Removable partial dentures are typically a more affordable option than implants, but they may not look as natural. They usually need to be replaced within 15 years.
    • Complete Dentures This option is a non-implant solution that is ideal if you’re missing all your teeth either in your lower or upper arch. Complete dentures rest on your remaining gum tissue and are held in place by denture adhesive or by muscular control.Complete dentures replace your gums, teeth, and bone, just like removable partial dentures. Many people wear complete dentures and are still able to live life confidently and successfully without anyone even noticing them. Typically, complete dentures require replacement or are relined every five to six years.

Restore Your Smile With Dental Implants at AZ Family Dental

Choosing to replace missing teeth with dental implants, bridges or complete or partial dentures is an important decision. 

 

Dental implants are designed to last a long time — upwards of 25 years — and are a long-term, permanent teeth replacement solution. Implant alternatives typically last between 5 to 15 years before needing to be replaced.

No matter which choice you prefer, whether it’s permanent dental implant solutions or non-implant alternatives, it’s important you consult with us to see if you’re a good candidate.

Although you will have to see your AZ implant dentist periodically to have your implants adjusted, when they are properly placed and maintained, they can last a lifetime. At AZ Family Dental, we know the anxiety that accompanies dental work, so we treat every patient like they’re our own family. Our highly-trained staff are both skilled and compassionate. They will spend time explaining your options for dental implants.

Contact us here at AZ Family Dental today for a dental implant consultation or to learn more about our complete dental implant package. We offer quality care at a fair price.