A dental implant is a wonderful investment in your smile and overall health. But, like any investment, you want to protect it so it performs as well as possible! Fortunately, dental implants last a long time, especially when they’re properly maintained. In fact, implants can potentially last several decades or even a lifetime. Although there are cases where failure occurs, you can usually prevent that with a few tips and tricks. Keep reading to learn more!
Why Do Implants Fail?
Implants are titanium posts that act as replacement roots for missing teeth. After the initial implant surgery has been done and they’ve integrated (or fused) with the surrounding jaw bone, they’re restored with either a single dental crown, bridge or a denture.
These restorations are separate from the implant itself and can wear out over time, just as regular dental crowns, bridges or dentures do after many years of use.
As for the implant itself, there are several possible reasons it may fail:
- Gum problems – One important factor that affects the longevity of an implant itself is the health of the surrounding gum tissue. Although implants can’t get cavities, they still need healthy gums to support them and keep them in place, just like natural teeth do.
- Errors in the implant surgery – If high-quality materials and techniques aren’t used during the initial procedure, the implant may not be successful.
- Excessive force or pressure – This can occur from clenching, grinding, or a misaligned bite.
How Can Maintain Your Implants and Prevent Failure?
Fortunately, there are some easy things you can do to prevent implant failure:
- Maintain good hygiene –Brush gently but thoroughly at least twice a day and floss at least once. Be sure to ask for a demonstration of proper flossing technique, as it’s different for implants. You might also benefit from an oral irrigator to flush out plaque and bacteria from hard to reach areas.
- Choose a qualified dentist – The chance for errors goes up if you don’t have a well-trained, qualified implant dentist perform your implant surgery.
- Quit smoking – Smokers have a significantly lower chance of long-term implant success (85%) compared to non-smokers (95%).
- Get regular checkups – It’s important to get a checkup every 6 months to have your implant monitored. This way, any potential problems are found and treated as early as possible.
- Wear a nightguard if necessary – Clenching and grinding put a huge amount of force on both natural teeth and implants. Over time, this may cause the implant to become less stable. Fortunately, a custom-made nightguard can prevent these issues.
Also, be sure to schedule an appointment immediately if you notice any issues such as tender, bleeding gums, or a sensation that the implant is loose. Oftentimes, these issues can be successfully treated before they lead to implant failure!
About the Author
Dr. Megan A. Shelton is a general and implant dentist and a graduate of the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. She always educates her patients about how to take care of their implants so they last as long as possible. If you have any other questions about dental implants, she can be reached via her website.