Dental implants are structures developed to replace lost teeth. They’re installed in or on a jawbone, resulting in an artificial tooth root. Then, a crown or prosthetic teeth are attached to the implants to replace the missing one.
Dental implants are designed to last for a lifetime. Nevertheless, for various reasons, sometimes this treatment fails after months or years of installation.
Before digging deep into why dental implants fail, it’s vital to concentrate on the primary question: Are dental implants permanent? You might also want to learn more about the price of dental implants here. Read along to learn!
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
As stated earlier, dental implants are designed to be permanent. Since they’re installed in or on your jawbone, they bond with the entire environment via osseointegration. When this process is done, the implants and the surrounding bone tissue become one. As a result, the implants serve as teeth roots, becoming a rigid foundation for a crown.Though the implants are intended to be permanent, the crowns, on the other hand, require replacement due to wear and tear. However, they, too, last for a while before replacement is necessary.
Types Of Dental Implants
Dental implants come in two types: endosteal and subperiosteal implants.
- Endosteal Implants
These are the most common dental implants. They look like tiny screws or cylinders and are primarily developed from titanium or ceramic. Endosteal implants are installed directly into the jawbone, following two steps. Before the procedure, anesthesia is administered to prevent the patient from feeling pain.
The procedure requires the dentist to make an incision in your gums before drilling into the jawbone to create room for the implant. After implant installation, the gums and jawbone are allowed to heal before attaching the crown to the implant during your next visit.
Nevertheless, an extra procedure is sometimes required before the endosteal implant’s installation, primarily if there’s a need to provide a strong foundation for the implant in the jawbone. Some additional procedures might include sinus lift, bone graft, or ridge expansion.
- Subperiosteal Implants
These implants are installed under the patient’s gums and over the jawbone. Subperiosteal implants comprise a metal framework with tiny extensions extending slightly from the gums. This type of implant is ideal for individuals who lack an adequate healthy jawbone for an endosteal implant and those who can’t or don’t want to undergo an additional procedure before the implant installation.
The first step when installing a subperiosteal implant is taking a jawbone impression so the implant can fit. Here, the surgeon makes an incision to expose the jawbone to make an impression easily. After the area has healed, the next step is placing the implant. The surgeon makes an incision on your gums to install a metal frame that sits on your jawbone. During your next visit, the crowns are installed on the metal implant frame connected to the tiny extensions that extend from the gums.
What Affects Dental Implants’ Lifespan?
As earlier said, dental implants last for a lifetime for most people. However, for a few, they do fail. The big question is: What affects dental implants’ lifespan?Mainly, dental implant failure occurs if there’s interference with the osseointegration or healing process. Here are the factors associated with dental implant failure:
- Insufficient Bone
Endosteal implants must remain firm in your jawbone. That said, if a patient has insufficient jawbone to support the implant, it’s bound to fail.
Before the implant installation, you must undergo several jawbone tests. These tests might include X-rays to determine if your jawbone can support dental implants for a long time. If the dentist determines you have an insufficient jawbone, they recommend you undergo additional procedures before the implant, such as bone grafting. Nevertheless, you might have an adequate jawbone that can support the dental implant but lose it over time. In such an event, your dental implants will likely fail.
- Poor Care and Maintenance
Dental implants require oral hygiene to last long. Plaque accumulation can cause gum disease that might interfere with your gums and jawbone’s integrity. Once plaque builds up around the implants, you develop a condition known as peri-implant disease. While peri-implant first stages are treatable, when left for a long time, the condition is irreversible and will likely progress to peri-implantitis, leading to implant failure.
For this reason, you must maintain good oral hygiene after the implant installation. Ensure to brush at least twice daily, floss daily, avoid too much intake of sugary food, and have dentist check ups at least once in six months.
- Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding or occlusal trauma can fracture the implant and loosen or fracture the screw or the crown. Small implant movements are made when grinding your teeth, interfering with the osseointegration process.
It’s believed that dental implants don’t last long in people who smoke. Smoking affects the blood flow to an affected area, interfering with osseointegration and healing. Smoking also affects gum health.
- Medical Conditions
The following medical conditions are associated with dental implant failure:
- Bleeding disorder
- A weak immune system
- Cardiovascular disorders
As with medical conditions, medication treatments, too, can cause dental implant failure. Among medication treatments believed to interfere with implant life include:
- Radiation therapy
- Immunosuppressive drugs
- Blood-thinning medication
Dental implants are more likely to fail in older people. This might be because older adults are more likely to have underlying medical conditions. Healing is also slower in these individuals.
What To Do When Dental Implants Fail
Once you experience symptoms of your dental implant failure, ensure to visit your dentist as soon as possible. Among the signs indicating dental implant failure include the following:
- Pain when biting or chewing
- A moving implant
- Signs of peri-implantitis
Once the implant is determined to be failing, it can be removed and replaced. Nevertheless, the survival chances for a replaced dental implant might not be as high as the first one.
If your implants fail due to bone loss, your dentist might recommend bone grafting before replacing them. In such an event, you might wait for months before getting a new implant. If you decide not to replace the implant, you can consider other treatments, such as dentures or dental bridges.
Since dental implants bond with a jawbone, they’re supposed to last forever. However, for one reason or the other, they do fail. Fortunately, your dentist will advise you on the best care to prolong the implant’s life; if they fail, they can be replaced. However, if you aren’t up for replacements, you can consider other treatments that, too, improve one’s smile.