Unlike dentures which have to be taken in and out for cleaning, dental implants are a permanent replacement for missing teeth. As one of the leading Implant Specialists in Central Florida, Dr. Steven C Hewett creates beautiful, highly durable dental work that can last for decades. At his practice in Champion’s Gate, FL, patients are looking for a long-lasting solution that will also stabilize the jaw, which is what makes implants the ideal choice.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
Dental implants are the most highly recommended solution for missing teeth because they are extremely durable and can be customized to perfectly fit the needs of the patient. As anyone with dentures knows, having removable teeth can be very bothersome and is just not a practical solution for many people. Implants are much more resilient than dentures and can last for many years without requiring an adjustment or replacement.
Most importantly, implants look exactly like real teeth and they also function like real teeth in every way. They are anchored into the bone structure, creating stability in the jaw and reducing the risk of bone loss that can occur when teeth are missing. An implant addresses both the cosmetic and structural concerns that a patient will have when there are gaps in their teeth.
The Durability and Versatility of Implants
Compared to dentures, being fitted for implants is more of an investment in terms of cost and recovery time, so patients of course want to know that this will be worth it. Over the course of a lifetime, the reality is that you will actually be saving time and money with implants. Unlike dentures, which require frequent adjustments and very meticulous daily maintenance, once your implants are in place, they should be completely trouble-free for 20 to 30 years.
How long your implants last will depend on your habits, and where the implants are placed (for example, implants at the front of the mouth tend to last longer than those placed at the back, where they receive greater wear from chewing and grinding). Even if an implant does become damaged, it is almost always at the crown, not at the post, making a repair very easy.
Are Implants Permanent?
Yes, they are permanent in the sense that they are secured into the jawbone and do not need to be pulled in and out like dentures. This does not necessarily mean that your implants will never need replacing. While the post, or “root” of the implant can last a lifetime, the crown will likely need to be replaced at some point. Patients who practice sound dental hygiene and who avoid biting into things like hard candy can expect their crowns to last at least 20 years.
The Reason Why Implants Last So Long
A dental implant is made from a solid titanium post that is embedded into the jawbone. Titanium is an extremely durable substance and highly resistant to wear and tear. Many patients find that the post itself remains trouble-free for the rest of their lives, although it is possible that this part of the implant may eventually require an adjustment or replacement in rare circumstances. We do not recommend replacing the post unless absolutely necessary.
What To Expect With Dental Implants
Having implants placed is a process that is more involved than what is required for many other dental procedures, but one that is well worth it. Getting implants may require several appointments, particularly if you are having teeth removed beforehand. The jaw must be allowed time to heal following a tooth removal before the implant post can be inserted.
Once the post goes in, the patient must wait again for the crown to be fitted and put on over the abutment (this is the part of the dental implant that holds the crown to the post). While the entire process may require several appointments, the end result is a beautiful set of teeth that will look natural and be as functional and durable as the real thing.
Tips for Increasing the Lifespan of Your Implants
Taking good care of your implants from day one is the best way to ensure that they will last for many years. Brushing three times per day, flossing once per day, and rinsing with an anti-bacterial mouthwash are good habits to stick with. It is better to use a soft-bristled toothbrush that will be gentle on your crowns and gums. Choosing a waxed dental floss that will glide easily between your teeth is also a good idea.
Twice per year, visit your dentist for a thorough checkup and cleaning. This is the best way to keep tabs on your dental work and get confirmation that you are doing a good job with at-home maintenance. At one of these visits you should ask for x-rays, since this is the only way to check what is happening between teeth and down into the jaw structure. This is also an easy way to see that your implants are holding in place nicely.
Why Diet Matters
Dental hygiene is a priority but so is being mindful of your eating habits. Biting down on hard items or using your teeth like they’re a tool for opening things is definitely not a good idea. While there is no reason to avoid most foods once your jaw has fully healed, using some common sense when it comes to eating will help to preserve your dental work over the long-term.
How Will Implants Look After Many Years?
Even dental implants that have been in place for 20 years can still look as good as they did on the day they were placed. This is because ceramic and porcelain crowns do not absorb stains the way that real teeth do. Maintaining a beautiful smile might require occasional whitening of your surrounding real teeth so that they continue to match your crowns over time.
Knowing if an Implant Needs To Be Replaced
If proper dental hygiene measures are being followed, it is unlikely that the root portion of the implant will ever need to be replaced. Removing the titanium post requires surgery and is not something we recommend unless the situation is serious (for example, a severe infection that has compromised the implant’s structure).
As for the crown, if it becomes chipped or cracked, it can easily be replaced with a new one. This is a straightforward procedure that requires no recovery time for the patient. In some cases, a damaged crown can even be repaired with a composite material. Even if there is just very minor damage, we do recommend having this addressed because it can allow bacteria to enter the implant and surrounding gums.
Deciding if Implants Are Right for You
If you are looking for a more permanent, relatively maintenance-free solution for missing teeth, implants are always going to be the best option. This is the only solution that not only addresses the tooth itself, but also the root structure that is so critical to supporting the jaw. Without this sub-level of the tooth’s structure in place, bone loss will occur over time, causing a sunken appearance to the face as well as many other problems.
People Who Should Not Have Implants
While it is very rare to come across a patient who would not be a suitable candidate for implants, it does happen. Anyone who is going through radiation treatment in this part of the body or who has uncontrolled gum disease will have to wait until their situation has stabilized before this procedure can take place. The same will also be true of patients who are experiencing serious medical condiitons such as cancer or uncontrolled diabetes.
People who are currently taking certain medications, such as immune-suppressors or steroids, may also have to wait until they are no longer on this medication before scheduling their procedure. At your consultation, your medical history and list of medications will be reviewed to make sure there are no concerns that might make this surgery inadvisable at the present time.
Find Out if Implants Are the Answer
If your teeth are making you self conscious, or if you are undecided about what solution will be best for your missing tooth or teeth, we are here to answer any questions you may have. Contact us today at the office of Dr. Steven C. Hewett in Champion’s Gate, FL so that we can arrange for a consultation.