A dental implant is a structure that replaces a missing tooth root. On top of it can be fixed a tooth-replacement crown. Generally speaking, a dental implant, when well-taken care of, can last for decades. Over time, however, parts of the dental implant may need to be replaced.
About Dental Implants
Dental implants have three main parts: the implant, an abutment, and the dental prosthesis (or crown). An oral surgeon places the implant itself, also known as a fixture, into the patient’s jaw to act as the replacement tooth root. The screw-shaped implant is made from titanium, a strong metal that is biocompatible with the body. In time, the jaw bone fuses with the implant fixture to create a sturdy support structure for the rest of the replacement tooth.
The abutment is a small connector piece that screws into the implant post and adheres to the crown. The crown looks, feels, and functions just like a normal tooth. After the implant fixture is completely fused to the jaw bone (in a process known as osseointegration), your restorative dentist will affix the crown to the abutment.
Factors that Affect the Longevity of a Dental Implant
Certain factors can cause a dental implant to fail, which means the implant fixture needs to be removed.
Factors that can cause implant failure include:
Insufficient care and maintenance – accumulation of food can lead to bacterial overgrowth and gum disease that inflames gum tissue and damages the jaw bone, leading to implant failure
Inadequate bone quality – dental implants require strong enough jaw bone to hold the implant securely in place; thus, soft bone or poorly-healed bone graft material insufficiently attaches to a dental implant
Smoking – the risk of of dental implant failure is elevated with an increase in the number of cigarettes smoked per day, as smoking interferes with blood flow to the tissues surrounding the dental implant
Teeth grinding – grinding one’s teeth on an implant crown can cause tiny movements that eventually break the implant, loosen or damage the abutment, fracture the crown, or cause bone loss
Medical conditions or treatments – the longevity of implants may be affected by certain medical conditions or treatments, such as uncontrolled diabetes, bone cancers, medications for osteoporosis, certain chemotherapies, and head & neck radiation
An inexperienced implant surgeon – dentists who lack experience with dental implant surgery can contribute to implant failure through improper placement of the implant fixture, using poorly-designed implants, causing trauma to oral tissues during the implant procedure, or attaching a crown before the implant is stable
How Can I Help My Dental Implants to Last a Long Time?
To help dental implants last for years, patients can:
- Brush at least twice a day and floss once daily
- Use a water flosser to help clean around implants
- Limit intake of sugary foods
- Avoid cigarette smoking or vaping
- Visit a dentist for checkups every 6 months
- Undergo bone grafting or sinus lifting procedures to address inadequate bone prior to receiving a dental implant
For more information on how long dental implants last, consult with an oral surgeon.
Dental Implant Surgeon in Manchester
If you’re considering dental implants, contact Manchester Oral Surgery today. Dr.Mark Abel earned his dental degree from Harvard, completed his oral surgery training at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a Board Certified Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Call 603-622-9441 today to learn more and to schedule an appointment.