Dental implants certainly have the potential to last a lifetime. But it’s hard to prove, because it’s hard to run studies long enough to show this longevity. Until recently, the best we had were generally studies that lasted 20 years. These studies gave reassuring information: nearly all implants last 20 years (if they don’t fail in the first year), but we’d like to go further.
Fortunately, now we can, with a new 30-year study on dental implants showing that 100% of implants were capable of lasting the full 30 years.
Dental Implants Supporting Fixed Dental Bridges
It’s exciting to have a 30-year study, but we do have to accept some limitations. The biggest limitation is that there aren’t very many subjects in this study, barely four patients who had a total of five fixed dentures. This means the dentures weren’t removable by patients, they had to stay in place. This can help with chewing and can sometimes be better for longevity.
Of course, it’s remarkable to get even that. Although the first dental implant procedures were performed just over 50 years ago, they weren’t even technically approved in any countries until about 40 years ago. And it wasn’t much more than 30 years ago that the inventor shared his discovery with the world. So we’ll just have to accept this limitation.
Still, the data is very impressive. As we mentioned above, the dental implants themselves had a very high survival rate: 100%. Not a single dental implant failed in all 30 years.
And the dental bridges also had a good survival rate:80%. Not as good as the implants, but still a surprisingly high survival rate, considering the length of the study.
Not Without Complications
This is not to say that the implants didn’t experience complications. Dental records showed that patients needed 21 repairs over the course of the study. Common repairs included replacement of gold screws, replacement of individual denture teeth, and relining of the dentures. In addition, the dentures needed a total of 19 adjustments over the course of the study. Adjustments were performed to maintain proper occlusion and contouring of dentures.
For people concerned about the number of repairs and adjustments dental implants will need, this is reassuring. On average, just one repair every seven years and one adjustment every 8 years.
Although dental implants do maintain more bone than dentures, patients still experienced some bone loss around their implants. The average was about 2.6 mm.
Dental Implants: The Forever Restorations
Dental implants stand apart from other dental restorations because they have the ability to reliably last forever. Not every implant, but, based on what studies seem to say, well over 90%.
But if you want your dental implants to last, there are several key choices to make.
Are you a good candidate? Most people are candidates for dental implants, but some risk factors can make it more likely that your implants will fail, such as being a smoker (or only recently quit) and having chronic gum disease.
Did you pick the right dentist? Dental implants placed by a specialist have a higher survival rate. With an investment like this, it’s worth it to pick a dental specialist.
Are you taking care of your implants? In general, dental implants don’t require much maintenance. Just brush and floss carefully, and see your dentist regularly. You might need to see your dentist more than twice a year, and you need to tell your dentist at the first sign of trouble with an implant or a bridge.
If you make sure implants are right for you, choose a good dentist, and take care of your implants, there is no reason why they shouldn’t last a lifetime. To learn more about dental implants in San Diego, please call (619) 299-5925 today for an appointment with an implant dentist at Strober Dental.