If you had some dental implants placed a decade or more ago, you may be starting to notice wear and tear on these teeth and wondering whether it's time to have them removed and replaced with newer implants. Although dental implants are a long-lasting way to replace missing teeth, they don't always last forever -- and if you were first fitted for implants at a relatively young age, you may undergo several replacements during your lifetime. When do dental implants need to be replaced, and what are your options? Read on to learn more about advancements in dental implant technology that can help your new implant be the last one you'll ever need.
How have dental implants changed over the last few decades?
The ability to replace missing teeth without requiring that the surrounding teeth be pulled -- or placing additional strain on support teeth with the installation of a dental bridge -- is a goal for every dentist. The invention of dental implants as an alternative to dentures or bridges was an exciting discovery, albeit an accidental one. In 1952, a doctor discovered the principle of osseointegration after he had trouble removing a titanium screw from a patient when this screw fused with the surrounding bone. Dentists quickly learned that they could create artificial teeth by implanting titanium support posts in the jaw bone, where they would quickly integrate into the natural bone and create a strong and durable biting surface.
While this osseointegration principle has been in place for nearly seven decades, it wasn't until recently that dental implants became affordable and available to the general population. Modern dental implants differ from those used during previous generations in that the crown is made from a durable tooth-colored polymer, rather than more fragile porcelain or ceramic. This polymer allows your tooth to strike the opposing biting surface without creating pressure that can crack the false tooth or loosen it from its titanium post.
In many cases, even if the tooth attached to your dental implant is showing some wear, the implant itself may not need to be replaced. As long as osseointegration has occurred and the titanium post is still solidly set in your jaw, it shouldn't require any correction. If you've suffered some bone erosion over the years, you may opt to have the post set more deeply into your jaw to prevent it from loosening if your bone loss worsens over the next few decades.
How long will your new dental implant last?
When properly cared for, a dental implant will last the rest of your life. Your new crown will not last quite so long, usually requiring replacement after around 10 or 15 years. However, you can extend the lifespan of your dental implant and crown by avoiding excess strain (like chewing on ice or hard candy) and by investing in an electric toothbrush or water flosser to ensure no pockets of bacteria are able to settle around your teeth.
Contact a local professional, such as one from Tijeras Dental Service, for further assistance.