Missing teeth are more than a cosmetic inconvenience – they affect a person’s day-to-day life and leave people looking for a permanent solution. Are dental implants permanent? While every patient is unique, it is clear dental implants offer the most permanent solution for missing teeth. After more than 35 years of service, many of the dental implants first placed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons continue to function at peak performance. When properly cared for, dental implants are a long-term solution, though dental implant failure is possible.
Success Rates of Dental Implants
Many of the implants first placed are still functioning as intended, and have an overall success rate of 95%. Given the alternatives – unanchored dentures or potentially damaging fixed bridges – dental implants provide patients with as close to a permanent solution as possible, and new technology, materials and treatments make dental implants a good choice for almost anyone who needs to replace missing teeth.
Potential Causes of Dental Implant Failure
Despite the success rate of dental implants, some patients experience dental implant failure. What causes dental implants to fail? It depends largely on when they fail.
- Short-term dental implant failure is typically due to a failure of the bone healing around the titanium implant – a process called osseointegration. This process can be affected by a number of factors, including low bone density, uncontrolled diabetes and smoking. Symptoms can include implant mobility, pain and bleeding.
- Long-term dental implant failure occurs once the implant has integrated with the bone and the jaw has healed, and the most common cause is called peri-implantitis. It’s a chronic infection of the gum (and eventually the bone) with symptoms that include discomfort, pus and bleeding. Long-term failures also can be caused by simple prosthetic complications (a broken screw or loose abutment).
While treatments for short-term failure often involve repairing the surgical site with a bone graft, waiting for the bone to heal and then attempting the procedure again, treatments for peri-implantitis will vary depending on the cause and severity. An OMS may recommend more frequent cleanings and improvement in home care or antibiotics and surgery to restore the bone. Prosthetic complications, while inconvenient, can be addressed and repaired.
Consult an OMS about Dental Implants
Among adults ages 35 to 44, 69 percent have lost at least one permanent tooth, and 26 percent of adults ages 74 and older live without any permanent teeth. Both fixed bridges and traditional dentures need to be replaced every seven to 15 years. Don’t settle for temporary solutions.
Contact an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to learn more about dental implants.