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For those that have been considering dental implants, you probably have because you’ve heard great things. Dental implants provide a more comfortable way to replace missing teeth. They also are more sturdy than dentures, meaning that the dental restoration won’t fall out while chewing or speaking. While these handy devices, patients often have numerous questions about them. The top one being how long will they last? Secondly, if there is anything they can do to prevent implant failure.

While dental implants may seem like a newer innovation in the dental field, they’ve been around for decades. Dental implants were first created back in 1952. A Swedish native, Ingvar Brånemark used his background as an orthopedic surgeon to create a better way to affix dental restorations. However, it wasn’t until 1982 that they made their first splash in the dental community. Since then, ongoing research has been done to improve the durability and long-lasting abilities of these titanium posts. But the good news for patients is they can already expect amazing results.

What Options Are Available With Implants?

Dental implants, if you don’t know, are titanium posts that are surgically placed by your dentist under the gum line or into the jawbone. These posts act as the support system for your dental restoration. Depending on your unique situation will dictate which implant-supported device your dentist will recommend. There are three main types: 

  • Implant-supported bridge
  • Implant-supported denture
  • Implant-supported crown

These are all similar to their non-implant counterparts, but the way they attach is much different. Instead of using other teeth or adhesives to stay in place, each of these connects to the abutment of the implant and use that as their support.

Are Dental Implants Permanent?

The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons have concluded that dental implants placed here in the United States by a licensed dentist have a 95% success rate on average. The success rate of the implant will significantly depend on who placed it, where it was placed, and how well a patient cares for it afterward.

To say that dental implants are permanent is not yet accurate. Research suggests that with proper care, a wearer can get 25 or more years out of the implant; it hasn’t concluded if they will last forever. But when compared to dentures and bridges that need to be replaced after ten years, then yes 25+ years is considered permanent. Most individuals won’t ever need to mess or have their implants replaced in their lifetime. 

Signs A Dental Implant is Failing or has Failed

Anything human-made can fail. This is the case with dental implants. Though they are made of titanium, they still can have problems. There are two primary ways a dental implant can fail. The first is by shifting out of location. When an implant shift typically there wasn’t enough bone tissue to support placement. While dentists do everything in their power to ensure this doesn’t happen sometimes it can. Below are a few of the complications you could experience from the implant/surgery that could indicate a failure. 

  • An infection around the implant or surrounding area
  • A loose implant or the implant falls out entirely
  • Nerve damage to the gums. Includes numbness, pain, or tingling at the chin, gums, or lip
  • Presence of sinus problems, which aren’t normal to the patient. This could indicate the implant touching the sinus cavity. 
  • Uncommon, but peri-implantitis. The bone and gum surrounding the implant are inflamed with a bacterial infection or inflamed from an aggressive bite force.

Peri-implantitis is treatable. You must see your dentist for treatment, though. Without treatment, you could be risking the implant and damaging the site of where the implant was placed. If you notice any of these above signs, you should consult with your dentist. While complications can happen, it may are avoidable if you follow the recommendations from your dentist.

Will I Know If I Need My Implant Replaced?

Shortly after having the implant installed, there are some signs you’ll need to have it removed or replaced. If the implant travels, it will need to be removed and a new one installed. As will all surgeries, there is a chance of infection. If an infection is left untreated, it could damage the tissue. If you notice any warning signs such as a discharge from the wound, fever, or bleeding, you should contact your dentist right away. You should have regular visits with your dentist every six months. 

Non-Implant Alternatives

Some are cautious about having oral surgery or don’t want to risk or chance implant failure. There are traditional methods you can use to replace missing teeth. These have worked for decades and are still relevant in the dental field. Other options include the following.

Bridges

Bridges can be tooth-supported or resin bonded. No matter which option is selected, bridges semi rely on the health of the surrounding teeth. Bridges are also designed to replace one to three missing teeth in a single area. They can’t fix teeth that are on opposite sides of the arch. A tooth-supported fixed bridge is comparable to a dental implant, with very few disadvantages. The only potential downside could be a bone loss because the jaw bone isn’t being stimulated. 

Partial Dentures

Partial dentures are adaptive. These can be used to fix several gaps in the top or bottom arch, regardless of their location. A partial denture will use your healthy teeth as support and a fake palate to hold everything in place. These aren’t extremely comfortable and are known to cause bone loss. These replace your teeth, gums, and bone. Partial dentures are more cost-effective versus dental implants. 

Complete Dentures

When you hear dentures, complete sets are probably what you think of. These are glued into place with a store-bought adhesive. They replace the gums and teeth or a full arch, which could be the top or bottom. These are often the least expensive choice for total teeth replacement but have some downsides. Dentures aren’t as comfortable, secure, and often don’t look as natural. 

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