A dental implant can last forever, but it’s trickier for dental crowns. In particular, dental crowns on dental implants are potentially more vulnerable to fracture than those that have been placed on your natural teeth. That means you have to take good care of them, and you have to make sure dental implants are placed by a properly trained dentist.
Less Shock Absorbers Mean More Fracture Risk
Dental implants are close in structure to your natural teeth, but they’re not exactly the same. One big difference is that dental implants are placed directly into the bone, which your natural teeth aren’t. Although your natural teeth are surrounded by bone, they aren’t part of it. Instead, they’re connected to the bone by periodontal ligaments, tough but flexible tissue that acts as a shock absorber for your natural teeth.
With the dental implant being placed directly into the bone, bite forces get borne a little more strongly by dental implants and their dental crowns than they do on natural teeth. This can put your dental crowns at an increased fracture risk.
What Doesn’t Bend, Breaks
A dental crown isn’t the same as your natural tooth crown, either. Your natural tooth is made up of several layers: a hard exterior called enamel, a slightly softer layer called dentin, and the squishy pulp in the middle. These different layers give your natural teeth the ability to flex a little bit themselves under pressure.
But dental crowns don’t have this flexibility. They are rigid, and when put under great strain they can break.
Poor Placement Increases Risk
Even given the additional stresses they must endure, dental crowns on top of dental implants should last ten years or more. If your first crown breaks in less time than that, it doesn’t always mean it was placed in error. But if a second one breaks quickly, too, you have to consider that your implant dentist may have made a mistake that is subjecting your dental implant to excessive force.
Many dentists don’t understand how to properly analyse bite problems like TMJ that can put your implants a risk from greater bite forces. When getting dental implants, it’s important to talk to an implant dentist who has also studied neuromuscular dentistry.
Protecting Dental Crowns
If you want dental crowns on implants to last as long as possible (and, yes, some actually do last a lifetime!), you have to take proper care of them. First, don’t use your teeth as tools such as bottle openers, scissors, or pliers. Use them only as intended: for eating, talking, and smiling. Wear a mouthguard if you participate in sports. Tooth grinding and clenching — bruxism — can damage your dental crowns.