On the face of it, saying something lasts a lifetime should have a simple meaning: it lasts forever, or close enough to forever that the difference isn’t significant. However, most people have probably realized that’s not always what people mean when talking about a product. Many of us have tried to take advantage of a “lifetime” warranty only to find out that the lifetime in question was just five years!
But when we talk about dental implants lasting a lifetime, we mean it quite literally. When you get dental implants, you can expect good odds that these implants will last you for the rest of your life. (Though restorations like crowns and bridges might need adjustment, repair, or replacement perhaps once every 10 years or so.)
How Product Lifetimes Are Defined
When manufacturers put out a lifetime warranty, the warranty period is defined by the projected lifetime of the product. They determine this by what is often called a bathtub curve that charts the failure rate of the product.
Initially, the failure rate for a product is usually relatively high. There are a certain number of defects and other problems that can lead to initial failure. This is called the “wearing in” period. It can last a few weeks, months, or years, depending on the product. Then the failure rate drops to a low, relatively constant number. Eventually, though, the failure rate starts to rise again. This is called the “wearing out” period, and it defines the lifetime of the product when the total failure rate reaches a certain point, sometimes 50%.
Analyzing the Product Lifetime of Dental Implants
So how does this work for dental implants? Let’s look at a large study of dental implants with a long follow-up period. It looks at nearly 13,000 implants observed over a period of up to 20 years.
This study shows the wearing-in period for dental implants quite clearly. During the first year, there were nearly 200 dental implant failures. This accounted for 60% of the total failures during the study period. Most of these failures were related to a failure of the implants to integrate with the bone.
Over the next 19 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–at least not after 20 years. The cumulative survival rate was 93.3% after 17 years, with no sense of how long dental implants might last. (Statistical limitations prevent them from projecting lifetimes at the full 20 years.)
There are some studies with longer follow-up periods, like this recent one with a follow-up of up to 32 years, and a survival rate around 97%.
Getting results for longer than that is harder. By the time someone has had implants for more than 30 years, the population starts to pass away, making it hard to get statistically significant 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 more than 50 years.
Based on this information, we feel confident saying that with proper care the odds are good that your dental implants will last you the rest of your life.
Have More Questions about Dental Implants in Ottawa?
If you are considering dental implants, including All-On-4 implant dentures, in Ottawa and want to learn more about their benefits, we can help. We offer free virtual consultations for dental implants, or you can call 613.271.7091 today for an appointment with implant dentist Dr. Andrea Stevens in Kanata.