Dental implants can be a permanent solution to missing teeth, but how long do they really last? It’s a valid question, and one that deserves an in-depth answer. But before we can get to the answer, we first need to understand what dental implants are, what dental implants are made from, and other factors that impact the durability and strength of your dental implants.
Are all Dental Implants the same?
When it comes to dental implants, it’s not always one size fits all. It usually depends on how many teeth you are missing, if there is infection or decay, and the density of your jawbone. Usually, you are a candidate for either single implants, bridges, or a full arch (meaning a full upper or lower set of teeth). No matter what type of implant you get, they each have three main parts: the implant, prosthetic, and abutment (pictured below). The implant is a titanium screw that takes the place of a tooth’s root, and is surgically inserted in your jaw. The prosthetic is the only part you see, and takes the place of the tooth. The abutment connects the prosthetic and the implant.
Single Implant: A single implant is exactly what it sounds like; a standalone tooth. This is one metal screw-like implant placed in your bone with a single cap on top. It is great for one missing tooth, but you would never replace all of your teeth with single implants. Firstly, the titanium implant (metal screw) needs more bone around it than the natural tooth’s root. Secondly, it would be way too expensive. Instead, you would use either an implant bridge or a full fixed arch.
Implant Bridge: An implant bridge is a set of two dental implants placed in your jaw, with implant crowns bridging the gap between them. This is usually chosen to replace three to four missing teeth, but again, not for a full mouth. Also, if your teeth are deteriorating, it can be better to remove all of your teeth and place an implant arch or a full set of upper or lower teeth.
Full Mouth Dental Implants
Full Mouth Dental Implants: Full mouth dental implants are the full restoration of the upper arch (all your top teeth) and the bottom arch (all your bottom teeth). This is a single set that rests on four implants, strategically placed for maximum strength. This not only looks the best, but also offers the most strength out of the other options. The most common type of full mouth dental implant procedure is called the “All on Four.” This means the arch rests on at least four implants. Four implants are the most common, but sometimes five or six implants are used. This depends mostly on your jaw bone density, volume, and the doctor’s evaluation.
The reason the All on Four implant procedure is more common is because it offers the greatest range of strength and stability for the teeth, while also reducing the stress on your jaw and recovery time. At Nuvia, we never do less than four implants because of the stability needed to ensure a long-lasting, permanent solution. We do sometimes place five, even six implants depending on the patient’s situation and the evaluation of our world class surgeons. Some dental implant centers offer 3 on 6 dental implants, you can learn about the differences between all on 4 and 3 on 6 dental implants here.
But what is it made of?
Now that we have gone over the different types of procedures, let’s discuss the different types of materials. There are three common materials used: PMMA, ceramic, and zirconia.
The strength of these materials is measured using MPa’s (megapascal pressure units, or biting force). The strongest the average person can bite is 450-500 MPa. Anything with that rating or higher is considered a permanent dental implant. Less than that rating will wear out eventually, and is considered a temporary denture.
The implant itself is made out of grade five medical titanium. This titanium does not corrode, does not conduct electricity, and is very bio-compatible. It is the same material used in knee and hip replacements. This titanium also makes up the abutments mentioned earlier.
PMMA is an acrylic copolymer and has a strength of 250-300 MPa. At Nuvia, however, we engineer our implants with a grade five medical titanium bar - the same type of metal used in the implants. This bar increases stability, speeds up recovery time, and increases the overall strength and durability of the teeth. Nuvia’s PMMA with the metal bar has a strength of 600 MPa.
Ceramic isn’t always named properly, because it includes any material that is an inorganic non-metal or copolymer. Because of this, it ranges from 900-1,500 MPa. The most common type of ceramic, and best quality, is zirconia.
Zirconia, also known as the white metal, is actually a type of ceramic. It is a rock mined and processed with other materials to create a durable and naturally white ceramic material. It doesn’t have wear and tear, and has a strength of around 1,200 MPa. Most crowns or bridges are made out of either zirconia or white ceramic.
At Nuvia, we offer PMMA and zirconia in 24-hours. Both our PMMA and Zirconia dental implants have been engineered in a special way, which puts the PMMA at a strength of 600 MPa, and the zirconia at a strength of 1,500 MPa.
You may see this and think, “Zirconia has a higher MPA and so it is definitely the best”. While Zirconia is stronger, PMMA can still last a very long time, and it also has some hidden benefits. One of the benefits of PMMA is the wear. It sounds counterintuitive, but PMMA can wear into a better bite over time. Everyone has a slightly different bite due to the individual jaw-bone structure, and your doctor will be able to tell you which material would be best for you and your individual circumstances.
At Nuvia, we use state of the art mapping technology to mill a custom set of teeth for your implants. When you have surgery, we place the implants, map your mouth and newly placed implants down to the nanometer (a nanometer is the width of a red blood cell) with an advanced scanner, and custom mill your PMMA or Zirconia teeth overnight. That way, you can have a perfect fitting set of permanent teeth in just 24-hours.
Other implant centers will place you in a temporary denture (maybe a 150 MPa if you’re lucky) for up to ten months, and then use “wax try-ins” to manually align a permanent prosthetic to your implants. This is not an exact science, and can lead to a misaligned bite. Misaligned bites can cause headaches, dizziness, and even back pain! (Google “misaligned jaw” for more info).
So, how long do dental implants last?
In all reality, dental implants last differently depending on your biology and oral health. Our world class surgeons evaluate each case individually, and customize all treatment plans and prosthetics specifically to you. Advanced mapping technology and our perfect placement procedures provide you with the assurance that your teeth will last. Apart from that, we also offer a five-year warranty on every procedure. If any part of your implant fails, or your bite does not align perfectly, we will fix it for FREE!*
Here at Nuvia, we are dedicated to giving you the best quality and care possible.
*In order to claim the warranty, you do need to take care of your implants as outlined by your doctor.*