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One of the most common questions that implant dentists hear is “Will my dental implants last for the rest of my life?” The short answer is “Yes.”

However, there are some conditions that go with that affirmative answer.

  • Yes, dental implants can last the rest of yourlife – if they’re properly maintained. 
  • Yes, dental implants can last a lifetime if you follow your Columbia, South Carolina, implant dentist’s specific instructions on post-surgical care for your implants. 
  • Yes, dental implants can last a lifetime if you don’t smoke. 
  • Yes, dental implants can last decades if you take all of the preventative steps to ensure you remain free of gum disease.
  • Yes, your dental implants can last forever if an experienced, highly skilled dental implant dentist places your implants so that they’re properly aligned.
  • Yes, the implants can last for decades if the impressions taken by your dentist are precise and indicate the exact spot for placement.
  • Yes, implants can last for the rest of your life if you practice good oral hygiene (twice daily brushing and flossing) and see your dentist according to their specifications.

Dental implants are a highly effective long-term replacement for one or more missing teeth, but they must be properly cared for according to your dentist’s instructions. Dental implants are often preferred over dentures because with dental implants you don’t have the following issues you’ll often experience with dentures:

  • Slippage
  • Taking them out to clean and soak
  • Difficulty talking
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Unable to eat certain foods
  • Obvious appearance 
  • Sunken-in look of the face when they’re removed

Factors that Contribute to Dental Implant Failure

There are some situations and medical conditions that may contribute to the failure of your dental implants. People who have diabetes and other pre-existing medical conditions (for instance, cancer) will always face a higher risk of implant failure.

As mentioned above, ineffective oral hygiene will lead to gum disease (periodontal disease); gum disease can affect the success of your dental implants. Gum disease can eat away at dental implants just as it can damage natural teeth. While your dental implants cannot get cavities, they certainly can be damaged by gum disease that’s left untreated.

The most common reason dental implants fail is an infection in the jawbone around the dental implants (medically known as “peri-implantitis”). Peri-implantitis develops when plaque and bacteria cover the implant surface and travel under the gumlines, causing gum tissue to become inflamed, pull back from the implant, and destroy the bone.

Will the Crown Last as Long as the Implant?

This is another common question Columbia, SC, implant dentists get when they’re speaking to patients about dental implant candidacy. As you may know, dental implants involve three components:

  • Implant
  • Abutment
  • Crown

While the titanium implant and abutment can last for decades, the dental crown that was placed atop the implant to ensure it looks just like a natural tooth will not last quite as long. A good long life of a dental crown is anywhere from 10-15 years. Again, if well cared for, a dental crown could very well last longer. If not properly maintained, a dental crown’s lifespan may be much shorter. How successful or unsuccessful dental implants greatly depend on the patient.

What the Research Says About Dental Implant Longevity

Although dental implants have been in use for more than 30 years, studies about their long-term effectiveness have not yet indicated a lifespan beyond the 20-year mark – but that does not mean they can’t last longer than 20 years.

To date, dental implant studies have been done with a 5-year follow-up, 10-year follow-up, and 20-year follow-up. All of the studies confirm the same assertion: dental implants last very long, but we may not know exactly how long. Since most people who get dental implants are older adults, getting twenty years or more out of your dental implants indicates they can last for the rest of your life.

Learn More About Dental Implant Longevity in Columbia, South Carolina

Columbia implant dentist, Dr. Adam Hahn, of Smile Columbia Dentistry, has been successfully placing dental implants in patients for many years. If you’ve suffered tooth loss and want to get your teeth replaced for a better quality of life, please call Smile Columbia Dentistry (803) 781-9090, or fill out our online contact form. One of our dental team members will reach out soon to schedule an appointment or answer any questions you may have.