Over the past 30 years, dental implant technology has been steadily improving. When dental implants first began to be an option for the average patient, starting in the mid-80s, patients who were going to have issues might see them happen right away. Screw-based implants might produce a reaction or rejection, screws might not adhere correctly to the bone, or screws might loosen or break.
Now, for example, dental practitioners use different types of screws that are easier to tighten correctly. Types of dental cement used are more natural and less likely to cause erosion of the bone. And researchers are working on ways to use nanotechnology that will more closely mimic the body's own bone so that they are more completely and permanently integrated.
The patients with the longest-lasting dental implants have had them for around 20 years. With proper care, a dental implant can last at least 5 years and is likely to last for 25 years to life.
But what is the best way to care for an implant?
1. Start by having it put in the right way. A big part of how long a dental implant lasts has to do with the skill of the dental provider. So look for a dentist or oral surgeon with experience in surgically adding implants.
2. Get individual implants. The type of implant can make a difference, too. Most new implants are done as individual teeth, and these will last longer than a type of bridge that has installation points on both ends for three or four teeth.
3. Use proper hygiene. You'll want to take good care of the implant to ensure it won't get infected or the gum tissue around it won't become inflamed. Just like you would take care of your real teeth, make sure you do the following:
- Brush and floss regularly. This makes a big difference in keeping bacteria away from your gums, where they can start infection and periodontal disease.
- Stop smoking. If you're not doing it for your teeth, do it for the rest of your body.
- Eat foods known for enhancing dental health. That means avoiding excess sugar and choosing foods that deliver maximum nutrition.
- Avoid brushing with abrasive toothpastes. Don't choose pastes that promote whitening so they don't scratch the implant's surface. Scratched implants can more easily harbor bacteria.
- Get dental exams every 6 months. No excuses.
In patients who follow the proper care, implants that have been in for years have a lower failure rate than new implants, according to one review. Bone loss in well-maintained patients also appeared to be small.
So if you're considering a dental implant, or you already have one, know that the better care you take of your mouth, the more likely you'll be able to keep your implant without drawbacks for your lifetime. Talk to a dentist like Tijeras Dental Service for more information.