We sometimes describe dental implants as being able to last a lifetime, but is this true? Do dental implants really last a lifetime?
We have evidence from long-term studies that back up the claim that, with proper care, dental implants can last virtually forever.
Long-Term Success of Dental Implants
Several long-term studies have been performed with follow-up period at 10, 14, and 16 years.
The ten-year follow-up study was conducted on a total of 53 patients with 112 implants, 8 of whom had a history of gum disease. In this study, the survival rate for dental implants at ten years was about 90% for patients with gum disease, and 97% for patients without gum disease.
The 14-year follow-up study looked at 218 patients with 1057 dental implants. They found that their survival rate was 95.7%, but noted that implant failures were clustered in a relatively small number of patients, with eight patients losing more than one implant, which means that 4% of the study population accounted for at least 36% of the dental implant failures. These people had significant gum disease-related bone loss around their other teeth before the dental implants were placed.
The 16-year follow-up study looked at 55 patients with 131 dental implants. This study showed a cumulative survival rate of 82.9%. When we look at their 10-year survival rate, though, we see that there’s a big discrepancy between the survival of patients with a history of gum disease and those without. At ten years, the survival rate was about 90% for those without gum disease, and about 85% for those with. So we’re likely looking at two different survival rates at 16 years of about 85% for those without gum disease, and 80% for those with.
How to Maximize the Life of Your Dental Implants
Although these studies show that not all dental implants last forever, they do demonstrate that the vast majority of the implants last longer than the studies. In all studies, the majority of patients had all their dental implants intact at 10, 14, or 16 years, and if you decide to get dental implants, the odds are good that all your implants will survive this long and longer.
But if you want to maintain your dental implants for a lifetime, you should make sure your gum disease is under control. For some people this is easier than for others, but in all cases it means thoroughly cleaning your teeth and your implant by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing your teeth every day.