When dentists or patients talk about permanent teeth replacement, how permanent is "permanent"? 10 years? 20 years? A lifetime? While no exact time frames can be given about the longevity and success of an individual prosthesis, we do have a wealth of data collected over a long period of time which can give us a pretty good idea.
Let us look at all the three most common options in detail.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
There are many ways to define a successful dental implant . Some people may feel that an implant which has functioned for five years is successful while some may feel this time is too short. This is why a standardized method to determine what makes a successful dental implant exists.
According to this standard, a dental implant needs to function for a minimum of 10 years to be considered successful . Note that this is the minimum time span for which it must function and is not an expiry date after which it will fail. In fact, the average age for which an implant survives is much higher and can easily be 20 years or even the entire duration of a person’s life .
This does not mean that every implant will last this long or that dental implants are infallible. Certain predisposing conditions such as diabetes , smoking , osteoporosis , and poor oral hygiene  can all result in the early loss of an implant or a failure to integrate with the bone in the first place.
The time for which an implant survives has also been found to be a little better in men than in women across different populations and geographies.
Failures in implant planning where too few implants are placed or incorrect placement of the crown on top of the implant such that excessive forces are transmitted to it can all cause the implant to become loose and fall out.
These situations can be prevented by proper pre-treatment planning, removing as many risk factors as possible and making sure that no compromises are made in trying to achieve the best outcomes.
How Long Do Dental Crowns And Dental Bridges Last?
Crowns are placed on top of teeth that are either broken or have been root canal treated. The idea is for the crown to restore function while at the same time protecting the tooth underneath. The amount of time a crown can last is dependent on a lot of things including the kind of crown that is made .
The older style of crown, called a porcelain-fused-to-metal-crown, has two layers. Over a period of time, the top ceramic layer can begin to chip off and start to look unsightly. The underlying metal layer can also develop a jagged edge that can cause discomfort to the patient or leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Now, after how much use this happens is anyone’s guess because an extremely high hewing force can break the crown in day one as well. With all-ceramic crowns, the lifespan is a little more dependable . Most top-quality all-ceramic crowns come with a warranty of around 15 years where the manufacturer will replace the crown free of charge in case it breaks. That’s a pretty good idea of the kind of lifespan you can expect out of them.
In the case of dental bridges, the material concerns remain the same as with the crowns. The only additional variable in the mix is the length of the bridge. The longer a bridge, the higher the force having to be borne by the supporting teeth. Long span bridges tend to last for a shorter amount of time than shorter bridges and are much more likely to fracture under chewing forces .
In general, though, crowns and bridges made from high-quality materials will rarely just break. They may need to be replaced after years of service as they wear away or the margins of the gums change but that would not be considered a failure.
Most often, a crown or bridge will last all while the underlying tooth or teeth are healthy and able to provide support. Decay in the underlying teeth due to poor margins and food getting stuck or microleakage are the most common causes of destruction of the supporting teeth.
Here is the bottom line. Dental implants, dental crowns, and bridges are built to last for years and even lifetimes but they do not often end up doing so because of a number of patient-related problems. Take proper care of your systemic health and oral hygiene and chances are that your prosthesis will serve you well for a number of years before anything goes wrong.