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How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

February 18, 2014

When a patient loses his tooth and dental implants are recommended, he usually asks two things – how long do dental implants last and how much would it cost him. Dental implants have been discovered around the mid-1960s and improvements towards its method and more importantly, the materials it is made from have progressed more significantly in the past two decades that studies on its durability have a huge difference from the last twenty years compared to when it was originally offered to patients.

How long do dental implants last?

If we were to give a specific timetable, we know that with careful maintenance, dental implants will function for many years. In studies, 95% of implants last for at least 5 years, but most are likely to have a much longer life. (source)  

An article from the University of Rochester Medical Center even goes as far to say that dental implants can last a lifetime. "If a person is healthy and has great bone and very good home care, an implant can last a lifetime," says periodontist Sally J. Cram, D.D.S., a consumer adviser for the American Dental Association who practices in Washington, D.C. "Implants survive very well. They're successful in the high-90-percentile range," says Dean Morton, B.D.S., M.S., associate professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery and director of implant dentistry at the University of Florida's Center for Implant Dentistry. "There aren't many procedures that you can have done that have as high a rate of success."

Another study suggests that implants generally will last between 20 to 25 years, or even longer, depending on the location of the implant, the patient's overall health, both at the time of placing the implant and their ongoing health status, and the patient's compliance with oral hygiene and routine dental visits. For example, because back teeth receive more stress and wear from chewing, implants in the back of the mouth typically will not last as long as implants located at the front of the mouth.

We know that dental problems mostly stem from improper home care or lack of treatment when needed.  The same holds true for implants.  With proper care and routine dental check-ups they should last a lifetime.  No one can give guarantees because the health of a person is dependent upon many factors which are out of the control of one's dentist, e.g., proper nutritional needs being met, proper hygiene, genetics, disease processes which might occur.

A Review on Longevity of Natural Teeth vs. Dental Implants

A recent systematic review published in the Journal of the American Dental Association by Levin and Halperin-Sternfeld regarding the longevity of teeth and dental implants has raised some interesting, and long overdue questions. Their research question was: "Is the long term survival rate of dental implants comparable to that of natural teeth that are adequately treated and maintained?" The article has suggested that the popularity of dental implants may have stemmed from the fact that dentists would likely extract teeth that are still salvageable (worth saving) on the basis of convenience than as a result of comparing between prognosis of saving the teeth vs. implantation.

Levin and Halperin-Sternfeld also discussed the difficulty of comparing tooth and implant survival. For example, tooth survival studies take an epidemiological approach, while implant studies typically use a distinct or ideal-type of patient.  Dental implant systems are constantly changing and many earlier systems are no longer used.  Researchers have studied the rate of tooth loss for much longer than they have studied the rate of implant loss.  Levin and Halperin-Sternfeld stated, "When assessing the general loss rate of teeth and implants over follow-up periods of at least 15 years, we found a range of 3.6 to 13.4 percent for tooth loss and a range of 0 to 33 percent for implant loss.  This may imply a generally higher rate of implant loss than tooth loss."  A final point of their discussion is that "dental implants are not the reference standard for replacing compromised teeth because they will not survive forever".

According to American Dental Association: Nothing can take the place of a healthy set of natural teeth. But when disease or an accident ends in tooth loss, it’s good to know that dental implants are one of the most effective ways to replace missing teeth. Dental implants help to preserve the bone after teeth are lost or extracted. With careful treatment planning and good oral care, dental implants can provide a healthy, stable smile for a lifetime.

So, the answer to this question really is that no one knows how long each individual implant will last. The longevity or survival rate of an implant can be influenced by the way you live and the quality of work your dentist has done.

Dr. Reese is an Implant and Holistic Dentist

When you choose to work with Dr. Reese, you are guaranteed that he will do everything he can to save your tooth to the best of his ability as he practices biomimetic dentistry. When every possible means have been done to save your tooth but to no avail, he will recommend the best tooth replacement option for you. If implants are going to be your best option, he will make sure to do excellent work and guide you on how to take care of your implants afterwards. Dr. Reese has been doing restorative and surgical dental work for over 25 years. He regularly teaches other dentists and studies new and improved techniques, being an accredited Fellow of American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Dr. Reese is uniquely qualified to not only place the implants, but to meet your needs to plan your treatment to fit into your budget and expectations!

His clinic, the Indianapolis Dentistry, is located just north of Greenwood, Indiana in Southport, just five minutes south of I-465 on US 31 between I-65 and Highway 37. Call 317-882-0228 for directions.