Run a Google search about the most popular questions surrounding dental implants and one that crops up time and time again is “What is the success rate of dental implants?” Clearly, this is a good question to ask and one in which there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer.
Because various factors can influence the success or failure of an implant-based restoration. For implants to be successful, several elements need to be in alignment, and sometimes, this doesn’t happen.
With this in mind, it isn’t possible to give a consistent answer in every case.
So when you hear, for instance, that “dental implants have a 95% success rate” it’s worth bearing in mind that this is a general assumption and one that may be true in some cases, but not in others.
That said, here’s what we do know…
Dental implant success rates fall somewhere between 90% and 98% in most cases. But why the big discrepancy?
Essentially, it’s all about influencing factors and the impact they have on implant longevity.
Let’s take a closer look at what those factors are.
A seven-year retrospective study sampling over 5200 implant patients, found that dental implant success rates were affected by the specific region that implants were placed into.
For example, implants placed in the mandibular posterior area (the back of the mouth), showed a significant drop in success rates than those placed in the maxillary anterior (the front of the mouth). There were also significant variations between the upper and lower jaws.
One reason for this may be due to the length of implant used. Shorter implants are often used in the upper jaw to avoid anatomical structures like the sinus cavity. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, However, in type III bone cases where the bone is far less dense, it was suggested that implants of less than 11.5mm in length may be prone to stability issues leading to implant failure.
Again. this is a hotly debated subject amongst dental professionals and one that is far from conclusive.
That said, we do know that the condition of bone impacts significantly on implant success so, an 80-year-old may still benefit from long-lasting dental implants provided bone quality is good.
Alternatively, a 50-year-old who has poor bone quality (type III or IV) may expect implant failure rates to be higher when conventional implants are used.
There’s one factor that will increase the failure rate of a dental implant and that’s smoking.
We’re all too aware that smoking is bad for our overall health but it can also affect the outcome of a newly placed implant in several ways.
Firstly, when dental implants are placed in the jaw they’re prone to attack from bacteria. Although implants cannot be attacked directly, the bone and tissue surrounding the implant are prone to infection triggered by an influx of bad bacteria.
So how much bad bacteria are we talking about?
Did you know, for example, that one gram of tobacco is said to house over one million bacteria? These include mold, fungal spores and other microbial toxins. That’s one million bacteria, on top of the 20+ billion good and bad bacteria that already exist in the mouth!
When equilibrium is upset, a bacterial-related infection can easily take hold. As it does so, it eats away at the bone tissue and bone surrounding the implant, eventually causing bone loss and implant failure.
For this reason, smokers are advised to quit, at least until the implant has fully stabilised in the jaw.
But there’s another reason why smoking causes implant issues and that’s because it can affect the osseointegration process.
Osseointegration is a natural function that occurs when bone tissue surrounding the implant merges and fuses with it. This creates a solid platform and is essential for implant success.
In most people, osseointegration takes between two to four months depending upon the body’s ability to produce new cells. However, this process can take significantly longer, or may not even occur, in smokers.
So why is this?
Smoking restricts the flow of oxygen to the blood (a vital ingredient for new-cell generation), meaning the osseointegration process becomes far less predictable.
So now we know what may and may not affect dental implant success rates, there’s one other important factor to take into account and it’s this…
Despite being the gold standard of missing tooth replacement, dental implants are not a ‘set and forget’ solution. Just like our natural teeth, they require ongoing oral care like regular brushing, flossing and dental visits. Therefore, those with dental implants must make a long-term commitment to care for them for the duration.
When implants are neglected, further bone loss can occur, leading to implant failure. Often this is irrespective of how long a dental implant has been in place.
So, there you have it, the key factors that influence dental implant success rates.
Of course, there may be others like the lack of experience from your chosen implant dentist, or the use of inferior implants but let’s assume that this isn’t the case.
Even so, there is still a chance that you could be in that 5-10% of people who will experience a failed implant. That’s something to bear in mind before you commit.
If you’d like to know more about how dental implants can help and whether you’re a suitable candidate, get in touch with Dr Akinwande at Chesterfield Dentistry.
During an initial consultation, she’ll take the time to answer your questions and ease any concerns you have allowing you to make a fully informed decision in a non-pressurized way.
Don’t suffer from missing teeth. Talk to us about full rehabilitation using dental implants today!