Aesthetic Reconstructive Jaw Surgery and Dental Implants Blog

How long does a dental implant lasts?


How long can it last?

 This is a common question during a consultation on dental implant treatment. Some are actually thinking of a "warranty period" while others may be thinking of "return on investment (of time, money and suffering)". When I first started private practice twenty years ago, I find that question difficult to answer without going into a long discourse on the science and art of implant dentistry. The short answer is that there can be no guarantee in surgery of any kind. Surgery is not an exact science and there are too many variables that differ from one patient to another to be able to have a guarantee of any kind. What we do have are statistics from published studies that gives a success rate of dental implants at around 99%. However, if you fall into the 1%, then to you, the failure is 100%. So, how do I answer the question of how long an implant can last?


The long answer to the question is that it depends on a variety of factors, such as the health status of the patient and the reason why the natural teeth were extracted in the first place. For the majority of patients, once the implant has successfully integrated with the bone, it can last for a very long time, with proper maintenance.


Gum Disease

The proviso "with proper maintenance" is crucial. We need to think of the reason why a particular patient lost his natural tooth to start with, that resulted in him having a dental implant. If the reason is due to gum disease, then we need to bear in mind that the disease processes that affect natural teeth can also affect dental implants. Implants can also develop gum disease that will loosen it just as it did the natural teeth. Without proper maintenance at home as well as professional care by your dentist or hygienist, gum disease can affect the longevity of the implant. 

Cracked tooth

Some patients have particularly strong bite and through years of heavy biting, some teeth crack and need to be extracted. A dental implant that replaces a tooth lost due to cracks also run a higher risk of overloading that may result in a breakdown of the bonding of the bone with the implant. It is usually during sleep that clenching and grinding of teeth can reach a high enough level to overload an implant. To alleviate this problem, we may make a mouth guard to splint the teeth together so that there is wide distribution of the biting forces while sleeping. However, if patient compliance with the mouth guard is poor, overloading of the implant can lead to loosening of the implant. 

Medical condition

There are some medical conditions that may affect the longevity of dental implants. Diabetes is a common disease and it is associated with retardation of wound healing as well as increased susceptibility to infection, both of which affects the integration of the bone with the implant. However, having diabetes does not mean that you are not suitable for dental implants. So long as the diabetes is well controlled, be it with medication or diet and lifestyle modification, success rates may be just as good. Osteoporosis is another condition which may affect how long an implant can last. It is not just the osteoporosis alone but in addition, the medication that osteoporosis patient often takes may also affect the longevity of dental implants. Osteoporosis are often treated with a class of drugs known as bisphosphonates which reduces the resorption of bone cells. However, this also increases the risk of non-healing of bony wounds. As such, patients who are on bisphosphonates may have a higher failure rate. 


Smoking, though not a disease per se, has an impact on the healing abilities of the body due to the effect of nicotine on the cells. The improvements in implant surface treatment and design over the years have reduced the risks posed by smoking but it is still a factor that may predispose a patient to higher complication and failure rates. If you are a heavy smoker, perhaps it is time you give it up.. 

So, how long does it last?



Barring any predisposing factors, a healthy non-smoker can expect a dental implant to last for more than ten years. In fact, the vast majority of patients have implants lasting twenty years or more. However, this statement does not amount to a guarantee. If you believe in Creation, then it is not possible that a man-made tooth can be guaranteed when the God-given one cannot. If you believe in evolution, it is also unlikely that a technology that has been around for only 50 years can be more durable than what billions of years of evolution has developed. The bottomline is that with the current technology, a dental implant is still the best replacement for a lost tooth compared with the other alternatives like a removable denture or fixed dental bridge.

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