Dental implants are incredibly popular for those looking to replace lost or broken teeth. Because they mimic the look, feel, and fit of natural teeth, dental implants make for great alternatives when natural teeth fall out or need to be extracted for various reasons.
Touted for their natural-tooth-like appearance and for their ability to allow a wearer to speak and chew comfortably, it is understandable that more and more dental patients are turning to dental implants in lieu of bridges or dentures.
While they mimic the look and feel of natural teeth, one question many patients have is: How strong are dental implants compared to real teeth? Implant surgery is an effective and safe way to fill in gaps, fix bites, and correct speech, but it is of little use if the implants are not strong enough to hold up to the natural wear and tear that occurs within one’s mouth.
Dental Implants Are Built to Last
Dental implants have three parts — a post that resembles a screw, an abutment, and a false tooth (a ceramic crown).
The screw-like post is placed into the jawbone the same way a tooth’s root would connect to the jawbone. The crown serves as a replacement or false tooth. The abutment is the piece that connects the post to the replacement tooth.
The screw-like post and the abutment are both made out of titanium. Titanium is known as one of the strongest metals in existence. This metal is commonly used in all fields of medicine because it resists corrosion and is capable of joining with human bone. Additionally, dental titanium is known to be biocompatible; this means that it is very unlikely a patient’s body would reject the material.
After one undergoes dental implant surgery, the jawbone bone heals and then fuses around the titanium alloy post. The crown is just as strong, if not stronger than, the natural teeth because it is anchored to the bone.
Dental Implants Do Not Decay
Real teeth often decay. This is due to the natural bacteria within the mouth. These bacteria combine with the sugars in the foods and drinks that we consume. When these bacteria and sugars come together, acids are secreted by the bacteria – these acids wear away at tooth enamel. This is seen in the form of a cavity if not properly taken care of. If not treated, cavities eventually result in decay and tooth loss.
Unlike natural teeth, dental implants do not decay. The acids within the mouth cannot eat away at titanium like they can enamel. In this regard, dental implants are much more durable than their natural counterparts.
Can You Break a Dental Implant?
Titanium that is dental-grade is resistant to fractures. Because of this, it is uncommon that a patient breaks his or her abutments or posts. With that being said, crowns, like teeth, can break. Crows are made of a ceramic material. It is strong but is not as strong as titanium. In fact, a faux tooth is just about as strong as a natural tooth.
Excess force, like an acute injury, or wear and tear over time due to something like teeth-clenching can all result in the chipping or full fracture of a crown. If your crown is chipped or fractured, it will need to be replaced. In order to prevent a crown from fracturing, teeth should never be used as secondary “tools.” Opening packaging with your teeth, for example, may seem convenient, but it can severely damage your natural and faux teeth. Further, cracking nuts with your teeth, chewing ice, or biting your fingernails should all be avoided as well to prevent breaking or chipping your crown.
All in all, dental implants are stronger in some ways than natural teeth. Because they do not erode or decay, they may show their strength in later years. However, crowns are not as strong as the rest of a dental implant and should be treated with the same care and consideration that natural teeth receive. Finally, it is worth noting that natural teeth should be salvaged if they can be. Overall, a natural, healthy tooth is better for the mouth than a dental implant. If natural teeth can be saved, with full strength intact, they should be.