Dental implants are the next best thing to natural teeth. In fact, in one regard, they can even be considered superior. For example, unlike natural teeth, dental implant-restored crowns cannot be compromised by cavities as porcelain does not decay. However, that doesn't mean that crowns cannot be damaged or worn out. Although, if you care for them, your dental crowns should last up to 15 years before replacements are needed.
In regard to the dental implants themselves, i.e. the titanium rods upon which the dental crowns sit, the success rate is 95 per cent. If you practice excellent oral hygiene, your dental implants could last a lifetime. In fact, according to research, the first person to have dental implants, Gösta Larsson, who received his dental implants in 1965, still had his original implants when he passed away in 2006. That's 40 years!
If you have or are considering getting dental implants, use the following points as a guide to help you prolong their lifespan.
Be Extra Dedicated to Your Oral Hygiene
While this is the most obvious, it is also the most important and cannot be repeated enough. Although dental implants don't decay and are not affected by disease or infection, the tissues surrounding them, such as your gums and bone, have no such luxury.
Diligently brush and floss to ensure that plaque (hardened tartar) doesn't build up around your gums and implants as this can lead to gum disease. Gum disease may then progress to peri-implantitis, a disease which breaks down the bone that surrounds the implants, leading to implant failure.
If You Grind Your Teeth, Get a Night Guard
Nocturnal grinding can fracture the crown or wear it down over time. Talk to your dentist about getting a custom-made night guard to protect your dental implants from overnight grinding.
If You Smoke, Stop Temporarily
According to research, implant failure is higher in smokers than non-smokers. If quitting isn't an option, try to stop one week before your implants are placed, and don't start again until you have allowed the implants to integrate for two months.
Because cigarette smoke reduces blood flow to your gums, smoking while your implants heal could increase the risk of early implant failure
Stop Any Biting Habits You May Have
Just as with grinding, you should avoid other habits such as nail biting, pen chewing and teeth drumming. Otherwise, you could damage the dental crown part of your implants.
Care for your dental implants as you would your natural teeth, and they will serve you for many years to come. However, ensure you visit your dentist at least every 6 months for a check up and dental cleaning.