April 12, 2023
Medically Reviewed By Matthew T. Streelman, DDS, MD

fmblogimagesdental | mercer island oral & maxillofacial surgeryWhen you lose one or more teeth, it affects your quality of life in several ways. Fortunately, there are a number of treatments available that can restore missing teeth, with dental implants widely considered to be the gold standard. At Mercer Island Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, one of the most common questions we receive is how long dental implants will last. They are often touted as tooth replacement options that can last a lifetime, but is that actually the case?

How Dental Implants Work

To answer this question, it is important to clarify exactly what dental implants are. Dental implants are made of titanium, a biocompatible material that fuses with bone, and are designed to function as artificial tooth roots. Once a dental implant is successfully implanted and fused to the bone, it can last for many years without any problems. After healing fully, the abutment that connects the implant to the gum or crown is put in place. The crown will be custom-made to match existing teeth and provide a natural-looking smile. 

Dental implants have become the new standard for tooth replacement because they allow you to smile confidently, bite and chew as you would with your original teeth, and avoid the health problems associated with missing teeth.

How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

The common claim that dental implants last a lifetime comes from a particular study, which found that about 95 percent of all dental implants remained a functional part of the smile for at least 30 years. Essentially, the study suggests that patients who practice basic oral hygiene and maintain robust oral health may expect their implants to last for around three decades. Many patients find that their implants may last longer than that.

Complicating Factors

The longevity of implants can be affected by untreated oral disease, which can cause the implants to fail prematurely. Specifically, periodontitis and peri-implantitis are forms of gum disease that cause the jawbone to recede. As your jawbone loses volume, your dental implants may lose their stability. So, for patients with dental implants, it is imperative to remain gum disease-free or keep gum disease under careful control.

The other complication to be aware of is that while the implant itself may last up to a lifetime, the artificial prosthesis (bridge, crown, or denture) typically will not last as long. These prostheses require more routine replacement. Doing so is a non-surgical procedure that leaves your implants intact, keeps the surrounding teeth healthy, and does not require the same financial investment as initial implant placement.

Get Long-Lasting Dental Restoration

At Mercer Island Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we are passionate about helping our patients achieve long-lasting dental restoration. During your consultation, Dr. Streelman will help you identify the treatment plan best suited for your tooth replacement needs, and counsel you on how to preserve your implants for as long as possible. Learn more about dental implants benefits, candidacy, and types.