How long will my dental work last? “It depends.”
This is a question that we get a lot, and it’s a very understandable one, especially if you’re about to invest your hard-earned money into your mouth, right? Just like a car, your teeth and gums require regular care to ensure that they are working properly. Sure, you can go 10-20,000 miles between oil changes given how improved cars are nowadays, but do you really want to take the risk? Same thing with teeth……….some people go for 5-10 years with no dental check-ups and are fortunate when they come in to find no problems, such as cavities or gum disease. But not many people are so lucky!
I always remember a quote from some lecturer at a dental conference years ago telling us his response to this question, and it’s really the most honest, best answer that can be given, “Clearly the teeth that God gave you haven’t lasted your entire life, and since I’m not nearly as talented as God, my work won’t last forever either.“
What Can Cause Dental Work to Fail?
- Grinding your teeth — when the human jaw clenches, it can create an amazing amount of force, and over time, enough clenching will cause teeth to crack and break.
- Acidity — anything that increases the acidity in your mouth is good for the bacteria that cause cavities, including Acid Reflux, Sodas, Power drinks (Monster, Red Bull, etc), Sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc).
- A very sugary diet — the bacteria that cause cavities love sugar. High sugar content means the bacteria feed like crazy, produce acid, and the acid is what eats away the teeth to cause cavities.
- A weak immune system — your saliva contains important antibodies to control bacteria in your mouth. Patients with a weak immune system can’t control the bacteria, so they grow faster.
- Decreased saliva (dry-mouth syndrome) — due to medications or illness, the amount of saliva may be decreased. With less saliva, there is less “washing” action of the teeth, so plaque stays on longer.
- Trauma — obviously. LOL One of my patients a few years ago fainted and fell face-first into a brick wall, shattering a front tooth. Another ran into a pole, shattering another front tooth. Dental work will always lose in a fight against a fist, wall, floor, steering wheel, etc.
- Bad habits like chewing hard candy or ice regularly — hard candy and ice are just that — HARD! Ice is just as hard as your enamel and as porcelain or bonding. Chewing ice and hard candy will definitely wear out your work (and teeth) faster.
- Not brushing or flossing — this should be obvious, but if you don’t brush and floss, your dental work won’t last as long. Nor will your own teeth.
That covers most of the major causes of dental work failing. With regular care, use of appropriate mouthrinses and toothpastes, proper brushing and flossing, regularly scheduled check-ups and dental x-rays, using a nightguard, and being aware of diet, etc, your dental work can and should last a very long time.
But always remember — my dental work isn’t as good as the natural teeth God gave you, so my work probably won’t last forever either. 😉