How long do dental implants last? A long time. And that’s about all we can scientifically say for certain. It’s hard to find good answers to this question because they are so long-lasting that most studies aren’t long enough. Based on the information we have, dental implants are essentially permanent, and, with proper care, they can last a lifetime.
We will go over some of the evidence about dental implant longevity, but if you want to speak to a Summerlin implant dentist about this question, please call (702) 873-0324 for an appointment at the office of Dr. James B. Polley.
What Studies Say about Dental Implant Longevity
The following chart is a summary of some of the studies on long-term dental implant survival.
|Survival Rate||Study Length||Number of Implants||Authors||Date|
|91%||20 Years||69||Lekholm U, Gröndahl K, Jemt T||2006|
|99%||20 Years||123||Astrand P, et al.||2008|
|89.5%||20 Years||95||Chappuis V, et al.||2013|
|93.3%||20 Years||12,737||Krebs M, et al.||2015|
 The original population of this study was 48 individuals, but 19 died before the follow-up period, so the data reflects only implants in the remaining 29 individuals. Although the study is 20 years long, the survival rate is calculated on the basis of 17 years.
As you can see, most of these studies aren’t very large. The Astrand study also reflects one of the difficulties with long-term studies of dental implants: people pass away before the study ends. So, although we’ve had some intriguing information about how long they last, it didn’t seem definitive until the release of the Krebs study in 2015. This study shows us that most dental implants can be expected to last 20 years or more. Beyond that, though, we can’t say what the actual “lifetime” of dental implants is.
How a Product “Lifetime” Is Defined
If you’ve ever tried to redeem a “lifetime” warranty only to find it expired, you know that product lifetimes aren’t the same as human lifetimes. In fact, product lifetimes are defined in a very specific way–one that doesn’t work for dental implants.
Every product is expected to have a “wearing in” period during which a relatively large number of them will fail. This is unfortunate, but generally unavoidable. Then a product experiences a long period where few of them fail. At the end of the product’s lifetime, however, failures increase in frequency again until it reaches a point where a predetermined portion of the product, typically 50%, has failed.
With dental implants, we see the initial wearing-in period very clearly. In the Krebs study, about 60% of all dental implant failures occurred during the first year. After that, failures became infrequent. There was never a time when dental implant failures increased significantly, and, certainly, we never saw anywhere near 50% of them fail. So we can’t define the “lifetime” of dental implants.
What Causes Dental Implant Failures
If you want to make sure your dental implants last as long as possible, it’s important to understand why dental implants sometimes fail. The most common cause of dental implant failure is gum disease, also known as peri-implantitis when it affects them. The second most common cause of failure is a failure to integrate in the bone. Mechanical failure is the third most common cause of failure, followed by overloading.
How do you avoid these failures? First, practice good oral hygiene and dental implant maintenance. Make sure your dental implant is kept clean as well as your other teeth, because bacteria can travel through your mouth. Next, try to eat good nutritious meals that ensure your body has the resources it needs to integrate the dental implants. Remember, osseointegration is an important part of the dental implant procedure.
Work with a dentist who understands how to comfortably fit any kind of artificial tooth, minimizing risks of damage to your dental implant.
Anecdotal Accounts of Dental Implant Longevity
We also know that dental implants can last very long because some people have had them for a very long time. The first dental implant recipient had his four implants for more than four decades before he passed away of unrelated causes. The second dental implant recipient has had his for nearly 50 years now, and they’re still in place and healthy. You can read more about his story here.
If you want to learn more about how long your dental implants could last, please call (702) 873-0324 for an appointment with an implant dentist at the office of Dr. James B. Polley.