If you're looking to replace a missing tooth, you've probably heard that dental implants are intended to act as a permanent, non-removable tooth replacement system. But how permanent can they really be?
Three Different Parts
It's necessary to understand a bit about the various parts of a dental implant. The way the term is used, you might think that a dental implant is a single unit, but most implants are made up of three different parts which work in perfect harmony.
The implant itself is a bolt installed in your jaw. Most implants are made of titanium, chosen for its durability and hypoallergenic qualities (which means your body won't have an adverse reaction to the material).
An abutment is attached to the top of the bolt. This is usually also made of titanium and allows for the connection between the implant and its prosthetic crown.
The prosthetic crown is the false tooth attached to the implant via the abutment. It's commonly made of porcelain, but other materials can also be used, such as metal, or porcelain fused to metal. Though generally not recommended, a crown can also be made of plastic (a composite dental resin).
The titanium bolt in your jaw is intended to last a lifetime, and unless you experience an injury that causes blunt force trauma to your jaw or a significant bacterial infection, the implant will be permanent. When talking about the lifespan of an implant, it's generally the prosthetic crown that might require replacement.
The Lifespan of a Dental Crown
The prosthetic dental crown attached to the implant is designed for longevity, but there are many different factors that contribute to the ultimate longevity of the crown. The location of the crown in your mouth is one such element. Posterior teeth (such as a molar) experience more bite pressure than other teeth, making a dental crown in this area more susceptible to degradation caused by standard usage. Additionally, the materials used can also influence the lifespan of the crown. A composite resin crown will not withstand bite pressure as effectively as a porcelain crown, and an all-metal crown will be even stronger, but the initial cost of this type of crown can be a deterrent.
Look After Your Dental Crown
It's your responsibility to care for your dental crown as you would any other tooth, maintaining the highest possible level of oral health. When an implant needs maintenance, it's usually in fact the prosthetic crown that needs attention, and the implant itself will not be affected.
With this proper care, the dental crown attached to your implant will last for many years, and if it should ever need repair or replacement, the process certainly isn't complicated.
Contact a local dentist to learn more about dental implants.