Do Dental Implants Really Last a Lifetime?

Do Dental Implants Really Last a Lifetime?

What do you think of when you hear “lifetime warranty”?

Do you think it’s referring to your lifetime or the product’s lifetime?

Most manufacturers are referring to the product. Not dental implants. They’re designed to last for the rest of your life.

How Product Lifetimes Are Defined

A warranty period is typically determined by what is called a ‘bathtub curve’, which charts the failure rate of a product.

Initially, the failure rate for a product is usually relatively high. This is called the “wearing in” period. It can last a few weeks, months, or years, depending on the product.

Then the failure rate then drops to a low, relatively constant number, once kinks are worked out and adaptation period is settled.

Eventually, though, the failure rate usually starts to rise again with most products. This is called the “wearing out” period, and it defines the end of the ‘lifetime’ of the product, and therefore the warranty. Deceptive marketing loopholes are the worst.

Analyzing the Product Lifetime of Dental Implants

So how does this work for dental implants?

Let’s look at one of the largest studies done on long term survival of dental implants. This study collects data from all ANKYLOS dental implants placed from 1991 to 2011 at Frankfurt University, a total of 12,737 implants placed in 4206 patients.

The cumulative survival rate was 93.3%, throughout a 17 year span, with around half of the subjects remaining for follow-up.

This study shows the wearing-in period for dental implants quite clearly. During the first year, nearly 200 dental implants failed. This accounted for 60% of the total failures during the study period. Most were related to bone integration complications, like Osseointegration- or infection, known as Peri-implantitis (body rejecting a foreign object and inflammation). These failures were ultimately very statistically insignificant.

Over the next 20 years of follow-up, there was never a time when the failure rate started to rise again significantly. This means that in terms of the bathtub curve, there’s no defined “wearing out” period for dental implants–at least not after 20 years. The cumulative survival rate was 92-95% for those still involved in the study, with women doing slightly better. Other similar long-term studies resulted in slightly higher rates, such as 96.4% overall survival, with titanium implants being by far the most reliable.

Obtaining these long-term results are tricky; by the time someone has had implants for more than 20 years, the population starts, mainly, to pass away; making it hard to get consistently relevant results. We do know that the first person to get dental implants passed away with their implants still in place after more than 40 years, and the second person to get dental implants has had them for 50+ years.

When you get them, as long as you treat them with proper care, you can confidently expect that they will last you for the rest of your lifetime. Restorations like crowns and bridges might need adjustment, repair, or replacement perhaps once every 10 years or so, to accomodate oral changes.

How To Go All The Way

Despite the very impressive lifespan of dental implants, there are factors, both lifestyle choices and misfortunes, that contribute to their early failure and occasionally their demise overtime, as we’ve seen through these studies:

  • smoking
  • age & gender
  • hygiene/sufficient care
  • medical conditions; diabetes, hormone imbalance (menopause),osteoporosis and arthritis.

If you stay on top of your health and preventative care, practice good tooth and gum maintenance, and get implants as soon as problems arise, you have a significantly better chance of smooth sailing.

Have More Questions about Dental Implants in Ottawa?

If you are considering dental implants, including All-On-4 implant dentures, book a free consultation with Dr. Andrea Stevens in Kanata.