The term "dental implant" doesn't actually refer to your replacement tooth. When synthetic teeth (or "dental crowns") are placed, they have to be attached to a sturdy base in order to remain secure and unmoving. This base is a small, cylindrical piece of metal that is implanted under the gum line and either into, or on top of, the jawbone.
Although dental implants are designed to last a very long time, it is entirely possible for them to fail. Here's what you need to watch out for.
What Makes Dental Implants Go Bad?
As mentioned above, dental implants stay in place because they are anchored to your jawbone and the surrounding tissues. But the implant can fail if this support base is damaged – usually as a result of periodontal disease, which erodes the bone and destroys the tissues.
Patients with autoimmune disorders are particularly vulnerable to dental implant failure, as they are more likely to contract gum diseases. Smokers, too, are at greatly increased risk, and are encouraged to cease the use of tobacco products.
How To Care For Your Dental Implants
Once the implant is in place, taking care of it is largely up to the patient: you. Here are a few easy steps you can take to keep your implants lasting as long as possible:
- Practice good oral hygiene. Things like daily brushing and flossing are more important than ever, and will keep plaque from building up around the metal hardware. This, in turn, inhibits gum disease.
- Avoid grinding your teeth or chomping down carelessly on hard/sticky foods. Crowns aren't susceptible to developing cavities, since they are typically made from ceramic or porcelain, but they can still be physically damaged.
- Keep up with regular dental checkups. These are great opportunities for your dentist to take a quick peek and ensure that everything is still looking good.
Remember: implants and crowns don't have blood vessels inside them the way that natural teeth do. As a result, the area doesn't receive as much blood flow, and will be more prone to infection than the rest of your mouth. That's why proper upkeep is so crucial.
Just like with your natural teeth, it's normal for your crowns to experience small amounts of wear and tear, and they will eventually need replacement – usually after 5-15 years . But in some cases, the implants themselves have been known to last for decades.
Take care of your dental implants, and they'll reward you with a lovely smile for many years to come.