If you are faced with tooth loss, there are many options available to restore your smile and healthy eating habits. From bridges to implants to dentures, they all come with their own advantages and disadvantages.
While many people are considering what option to pursue, they most commonly look at the cost of the procedure or the pain associated with it. However, it’s also important to take into account the longevity of the device being implanted. Just like with knee or hip replacements, many times a patient will need to have a procedure to replace materials that may degrade over time.
If you are in conversations with your dentist about dental implants, it’s important to ask about how long to expect them to last. Below, we’ll break down the different types of implants available as well as how long they’re expected to be fully functional until you need a replacement. If you currently have an implant that might be nearing its end of life, keep reading, because we’re about to lay out your replacement dental implant 101.
Dental bridges literally bridge a gap created by one or more missing teeth. A bridge is made up of two or more crowns for the teeth on either side of the gap—these anchoring teeth are called abutment teeth—and then include a false tooth or teeth in between.
These false teeth are called “pontics” and can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these. Dental bridges are supported by natural teeth or implants.
Getting a bridge placed will take several visits. At the first visit, impressions will be made and a temporary bridge will be placed. A second visit will allow the dentist to remove the temporary bridge and replace it with the permanent one. Having a dental bridge requires strict adherence to a good oral health routing since tooth decay can occur underneath the crowns.
The longevity of a dental bridge depends heavily on the health of your mouth. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a dental bridge typically lasts between five and seven years. And it’s not unheard of for one to last ten years.
The reason dental bridges eventually fail is due to the way they are placed along with daily use. Since the tooth next to the bridge is filed down to allow for its placement, this also increases the likelihood of tooth decay or gum erosion. If the tooth that supports the bridge becomes too damaged, it too may need to be pulled, which causes the entire bridge to need to be redone.
To extend the life of a dental bridge, it’s important to eat foods that don’t put too much stress on the bridge. This includes limiting high sugar and carbohydrate-rich foods and eliminating harder foods like nuts and popcorn. Focus your diet on high calcium and vegetable and fruit–rich options to strengthen your teeth and to naturally clean them as well.
A dental implant is actually a replacement for the root of a tooth. Dental implants are metal posts or frames that are surgically implanted in the jaw that a replacement tooth can be mounted on. Modern implants use titanium to form an artificial root of the tooth.
Once surgically implanted into the jawbone, the titanium bonds with the jawbone and heals much quicker than previous iterations of the technology. There are many advantages to dental implants, including an improved appearance and increased confidence, improved speech and improved oral health. For those with significant tooth loss, implants can offer a significant boost in quality of life. Success rates of dental implants vary depending on where in the jaw the implants are placed, but in general, dental implants have a success rate of up to 98%.
Since a dental implant requires a more invasive procedure, once the implant is in it can last a lifetime. However, there are always risks for the implant to fail. This most commonly occurs due to an infection around the implant area. This could require an extraction of the dental implant to cure the infection before replacing it. And although usually made of titanium metal, there is still a chance your implant can break or bend. Thanks to advances in the materials and designs of implants, this doesn’t happen as often today as it did years ago. If your implant is exposed to excessive external forces, like grinding teeth or a blow to the face, it can eventually fracture or crack. If you do suffer multiple implant failures, it could be in indication that your bone isn’t strong enough to sustain dental implants.
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth. It’s made of acrylic, sometimes in combination with various metals. Complete dentures replace all the teeth, while a partial denture fills in the spaces created by missing teeth and prevents other teeth from changing position.
A set of full dentures can be quite costly, so before starting down that road many patients want to know how long they can be expected to last. The strength of the materials used in dentures is generally the biggest factor in how long it will last. The average life expectancy of a denture is seven to ten years. Although the denture is likely to last considerably longer than this, the shape of your mouth will have changed over time as well, and an older denture can harbor bacteria that may cause oral health problems. Since you wear your dentures 24 hours a day 7 days a week, it is important to ensure you maintain excellent oral health.
As you age, the shape of your jaw changes, too, which influences your bite. This causes a loss of chewing efficiency and a loss of desired appearance, plus a loosening of the denture and general discomfort in the mouth.
These changes can be rectified, but if left too long rehabilitation becomes very difficult. The rate of change depends on age, health and many other factors.
When choosing the best way to replace missing teeth, it’s important to take into consideration the procedure, cost and longevity of the device. Have more questions? Are you thinking about replacing one of your dental implants? Give us a call today!