Lifespan of a Dental Implant
There are a number of factors that go into making an informed choice about tooth replacement. Chief among them are cost, time, and functionality. Certainly, with the wide range of costs and functionality of tooth replacement technologies, it’s imperative to get information on how well they perform and what they cost. It’s also helpful to know how long it will take to make them. One other question that should be thoroughly explored, however, is how long that technology will last. What you might find is that something with a lower price tag might have to be repaired or replaced regularly, thereby raising the actual cost significantly.
Popular Tooth Replacement Options: Conventional Dentures vs. Dental Implants
Two of the most common tooth replacement technologies utilized by dentists today are conventional dentures and dental implants. While their basic function is the same – to replace several or even all of one’s teeth – there are important structural differences that have an impact on how these prosthetics work.
Conventional dentures are composed of an acrylic base with built-in prosthetic crowns and are made to fit over the top of the gums, where they are typically held in place with the aid of dental adhesives. While they serve the same basic functions as one’s natural teeth – aiding in biting, chewing, and ultimately the digestion of one’s food – they tend to do so with less strength and stability as one’s organic teeth because of their unanchored position in the mouth.
Dental implants, on the other hand, are designed and installed in a two-to three-part structure that effectively mimic that of one’s natural teeth. Unlike conventional dentures, dental implants include prosthetic roots along with the prosthetic crowns they support. These small posts, usually made of titanium, are surgically placed in the jawbone itself in the first step of dental implant creation. After the tissues have healed and the post has become thoroughly embedded in the jaw, the crown can be attached via a connecting piece called an abutment.
In cases where all or most of one’s teeth must be replaced, these dental implants can hold implant-supported dentures in place, as well. Oftentimes as few as two to four implants can hold an entire arch of dentures in place, creating an excellent support system with a low degree of surgical intervention.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Although conventional dentures boast a lower price point and a more rapid creation timeline, dental implants continue to be favored by both dentists and their patients. This is because dental implants simply act and function most like natural teeth. As contrasted with conventional dentures, which can slip and slide awkwardly in one’s mouth, dental implants are literally rooted in the jaw. They won’t move any more than your natural teeth once did, which means that they offer the ability to enjoy a much wider range of foods and suffer less anxiety and social embarrassment about when and how one’s dentures might shift at a meal or party.
A more natural profile and less movement in the mouth also means less physical discomfort: absent the bulky acrylic base that is part and parcel of conventional dentures, dental implants rely on a structural foundation embedded below the surface of the gums where it can’t get in the way. Other than the implant crowns, there is simply nothing intruding in one’s oral cavity. This also means that there are no parts of dental implants that can rub or poke the delicate soft tissues of the mouth, which eliminates the friction sores that can come about with shifting dentures.
Because they are surgically installed in the mouth, dental implants don’t require any special cleaning routines; they can simply be brushed and flossed like regular teeth, becoming a seamless part of one’s usual daily routine.
Finally, the cosmetic appeal of dental implants goes far beyond the obvious: while they are indeed more attractive and natural looking than dentures in terms of the prosthetics themselves, dental implants also help maintain a more natural and youthful appearance in terms of the support they provide to one’s facial structure. The prosthetic roots also stimulate the jaw in important ways, leading to longer lasting bone density and overall oral health.
Cost and Lifespan of Dental Implants
Because their installation includes a surgical component, the cost of dental implants is higher than that of conventional dentures. But in the dental world, as everywhere else, you get what you pay for: dental implants also made from more expensive, durable materials that are built to last.
Properly installed and cared for, dental implants can last around 25 years, making them a durable and dependable option for tooth replacement.
Finally, while the upfront cost of dental implants is higher, there is less maintenance required as compared to conventional dentures, which have to be repaired and even replaced somewhat frequently. These hidden costs can make the price difference seem higher than it is.
Protecting the Lifespan of Dental Implants
Cared for properly, dental implants can last decades. Poor health and lifestyle choices, however, can shorten this lifespan, so it is important to take note of these factors that can have an impact on the durability of this investment.
Health challenges such as cancer, diabetes, certain autoimmune diseases, and the medications used to treat these various conditions can all take a toll on dental implants. It is important to keep a dialogue open with your dentist about your overall health so that she or he can monitor any impacts it could have on your oral health.
Smoking and drinking alcohol can also have a detrimental effect on dental implants; it’s best to avoid these practices, or at least limiting one’s consumption. Not only will this prolong the life of your dental implants, it will likely prolong YOUR life, as well!
Simply maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the easiest ways to keep your dental implants in good working order, and ready to serve your needs for years. Be sure to brush and floss regularly and remember: your teeth are not tools! Take care of your dental implants, and they’ll take care of you.