Defining the Dental Implant Lifespan
Many people in Rancho Mirage are familiar with the concept of a “lifetime limited warranty” for a product you buy. Have you ever tried to take advantage of it when the product broke? If you did, you might have learned that the warranty had expired. That’s because the warranty was for the product’s lifespan, not your lifetime. But how do they define a product’s lifetime warranty?
The product lifetime warranty is defined by what is often called the “bathtub curve.” All products will have a relatively high initial failure rate. Random manufacturing defects, installation problems, and other issues make some products fail initially. This is what we call the “wearing in” period. This is approximately the first year for dental implants, during which around 2% of all dental implants fail.
For many years, products have low failure rates. Eventually, the failure rate begins to climb again. This is called the “wearing out” period. If you look at a graph of the failure rate, this looks like a bathtub.
To define the dental implant lifespan, we have to reach that other side of the bathtub: when implant failure rates climb and meet or exceed the initial failure rate. However, we don’t have studies long enough to show this yet.
Let’s look at a couple of examples to show what we mean.