Dental implants are a fantastic and increasingly popular way to save your smile if you have lost a few teeth. Best of all, not only do they look like natural teeth, but you can maintain them like the teeth you were born with and they can last you for the rest of your life if you take care of them properly. Unfortunately, like natural teeth, dental implants can fail if you do not take care of them. What is the incidence of this occurring, and is this something that you need to be worried about? A researcher at Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden has taken a close look at this issue, and it ultimately boils down to your personal habits.
4,716 randomly selected patients who had received dental implants were selected to fill out a questionnaire which indicated that, overall, the patients were very happy with the results of their dental implant procedure. After nine years, 596 patients had follow-up examinations. 7.6% of the patients had lost at least one implant and 14.5% developed peri-implantitis (a destructive inflammatory process that affects soft and hard tissues surrounding dental implants) with pronounced bone loss. It is important to note, however, that out of all of the dental implants examined after the nine-year period (2,367 implants total) only 3% (72 implants) had been lost.
This study reminds us that certain risk factors can dramatically increase your risk of dental implant loss. The population in this study included both smokers and individuals who had been diagnosed with gum disease when their implants were placed, and these people experienced disproportionately high dental implant failures and complications.
It’s also important to remember that peri-implantitis is really comparable to gum disease, which is common in the general population, with about half of all American adults having moderate to severe gum disease.
Dental implants are not foolproof, but this study, along with others, confirms that dental implants have a very high success rate, especially for people without identifiable risk factors. The study also showed that over 90% of patients were satisfied with their dental implants.