Getting a dental implant is a complex, expensive and time-consuming procedure.
Therefore, you really want your newly implanted tooth to last as long as possible.
The amount of time that a dental implant will last in your mouth ultimately depends on three factors. These are: the quality of materials used in the dental implant, how well the implant is made and placed, and how well you look after your implanted tooth
With this in mind, here are four steps you can take to ensure that your implanted tooth lasts as long as possible.
Follow these steps and your dental implant should last the rest of your life without giving trouble.
Be willing to pay slightly extra for the best materials
Dental implant technology has come a long way in the last few years.
Although surgical techniques have improved in this time, one of the most important advancements have come in terms of the materials developed to be used in implants.
For a dental implant to last the rest of your life, it is imperative that the implanted root is made out of sterile titanium.
Sterile titanium is by far the best material for a dental implant for two reasons.
Firstly, it is extremely durable, even more durable than natural tooth roots.
Secondly, in 99% of cases your body will treat sterile titanium as native bone. This means that, over time, your jaw-bone will grow around it, holding the implant in place as securely as your actual teeth.
Unfortunately, sterile titanium is not the cheapest material to manufacture. This means that implants using this material are on the slightly more expensive side.
That being said, having longer lasting implants will save you money in the long run as they will not be replaced or repaired by an implant specialist.
Therefore, although not the cheapest, sterile titanium dental implants represent the best value for money, and will make it much more likely that your implants will last for the rest of your life.
Keep the gum line surrounding the implant clean with consistent, gentle flossing
When a dental implant needs repairing or replacing, it is almost always due to either the implanted root coming loose, or the artificial tooth crown being chipped or cracked.
Degradation of the implanted tooth root usually occurs due to infection of the gum that surrounds the implant. When the gum is infected, it recedes, exposing the implant itself.
The bacteria which causes this gum infection can also damage the jaw bone that holds the implant in place. It is this mechanism that causes your natural teeth to fall out, and it can do the same to implanted teeth. This is called Peri-Implantitis.
You can prevent this by happening by flossing around your implant daily. When you first have your implant placed you need to be very gentle with how you floss it as you can jostle the implant out of place with too much pressure.
That being said, gentle, daily flossing will ensure that your implanted tooth does not come loose or fall out.
Minimize the risk of damaging your artificial toot
If you floss daily to ensure your implanted root remains firmly in your mouth, you now need to look after your artificial tooth crown.
Although modern crowns are incredibly durable, they are still slightly more vulnerable to chips and cracks than your natural teeth.
Such damage, in the vast majority of cases, comes from physical trauma. This trauma is usually caused either by chewing on something very hard or crunchy, or through accidental impact such as a clash of heads.
Therefore, if you want to minimize the risk of damaging your implanted tooth, try to avoid excessively hard or crunchy foods. If you cannot resist such foods, then at least try to chewing on it directly with your implanted tooth.
If you play contact, or semi-contact sports such as football, rugby, hockey or combat sports, then it is highly recommended that you wear a mouth guard to reduce the damage caused by any impact to the mouth that may happen.
Avoid smoking, particularly in the first 6 months after surgery
After poor oral hygiene, smoking is the biggest cause of gum disease and Peri-Implantitis.
Therefore, if you smoke, the chances of your dental implant coming loose or falling out is much higher.
It is highly recommended that you stop smoking if you are having dental implants and want them to last as long as possible.
If you cannot stomach a life without smoking, than you should at least stop smoking in the first 6-12 months after surgery. At this point your gums are still healing from surgery and are particularly prone to infection.
Smoking greatly exacerbates the chances of such infection that causes dental implants to fail.
Arrange appointments with a dentist after surgery to monitor your implant
Dental implants only require replacing after significant damage has been done to them.
A dentist can easily undo the beginnings of such damage if caught early enough. This can only happen if you have regular after care appointments following your implant surgery.
Most good practices will include such follow up appointments as part of the implant treatment. However, even if you have to pay a bit extra for such appointments, it will save you money in the long run if it means that you do need to have significant repairs to your implants later on.
If you make your dentist aware of your implanted teeth, then they can provide the appropriate aftercare as part of your regular dental check up.
Author Bio: Dr Boryana Nikolova. Boryana is the owner and Principal Dentist of 92 Dental in London England. She is a general dentist with a special interest in endodontics. She also enjoys writing about all aspects of dentistry and a passion for education her patients about minimally invasive, preventative dentistry