This is a question that commonly comes up when patients are trying to decide between a bridge or an implant. While a bridge will never last forever, implants can actually last forever. There is one caveat though.
Since the implant itself and the abutment are both made out of titanium there is nothing that can decay or get a cavity. Implants are typically about 95-98% successful. However there is one major difference between an implant and a natural tooth.
In a natural tooth the gum is physically attached to the tooth with collagen fibers. This is very similar how your nails are attached to your finger. In the presence of health, these collagen fibers offer resistance to bugs and bacteria penetrating to deeper layers below. They help protect the tooth and bone from bugs. Regular brushing, flossing and visits to the dentist for cleanings keep this healthy.
In an implant the collagen fibers in the gum cannot attach to the implant. The gums simply sit around the titanium abutment. This makes the implant and bone below more vulnerable to neglect then a natural tooth. Typically once a patient has an implant, we recommend cleanings every 3 to 4 months due to the increased susceptibility of the implant to bacterial invasion with the presence of plaque.
While implants are very successful, it is critical that the patient has excellent oral hygiene to ensure the long term survival of the implant.
If you've been contemplating replacing your that missing tooth and restoring your smile call our Woodland Hills or Manhattan Beach locations today!