When you get dental implants, you rely on them to chew every day. As you bite down and release your jaw, the dental implant experiences first compression and then release, which creates a mechanical load cycle that can potentially cause significant wear on your implants.

Now a new study has identified one of the ways that wear can damage your implants. Researchers looking at implants have found that the connection between the dental implant and the abutment allows a small amount of movement between the two components, and over time this movement causes wear. They found that the wear became potentially significant after about 200,000 cycles and continued to worsen throughout the 1 million cycles they tested. But what does that mean in terms of your chewing? How long would it take before your dental implants show wear?

How Many Cycles a Day?

To figure out how many cycles a day your dental implants experience, we need to know how many times you chew a day, which can be challenging. Although some people have a precise number of bites they take each day if they’re following something like the 100-bite diet, most of us have no idea how many bites we take. So we need to make an estimate.

We can do this using the number of calories we consume. The average American consumes about 3770 Calories per day. But how many bites is that? The average woman consumes about 11 Calories per bite, compared to about 17 for the average man, so the overall average Calories per bite is 14. That means that the average American takes about 270 bites per day.

But how many chewing cycles does that mean? There aren’t good figures on how many times people chew per bite, although there are recommendations, such as 32 chews per bite, which would lead to about 8600 cycles per day. Some more realistic estimates range from about 10 to 20 chews per bite, so let’s call it 15, giving us about 4000 loading cycles per day.

If you chew 4000 times a day, it would only take 50 days to reach the point that wear begins to develop between the dental implant and the abutment. And by the end of the first year, your dental implant would have experienced nearly 1.5 million wear cycles!

So there is some basis for concern about wear on dental implants.

How Serious Is the Concern?

Our question now is: does this wear that scientists can measure result in an increased probability of dental implant failure? Yes, it does, but the risk remains small. As we noted before, mechanical failure of dental implants is one of the less common causes of implant failure, occurring in only 0.2% of dental implants.

However, this is a type of failure that increases with time. Most mechanical failures occur five years or more after the implants have been placed. With over 90% of dental implants lasting 17 years or more, this is an issue that isn’t immediately urgent, but should be considered if we are to make all implants last 50 years or more.

If you would like to talk more about the performance you could expect from dental implants in Las Vegas, please call (702) 873-0324 for an appointment with an implant dentist at the office of Dr. James B. Polley.