Have you ever invested in a quality product partly because of the confidence it inspired with its “lifetime warranty,” then found out that the “lifetime” described was just a few years or even months? We understand. We’ve all been there.
But when it comes to dental implants, we can’t even describe their lifetime–they last too long.
How the “Bathtub Curve” Defines Product Lifetime
People who work with consumer goods define product lifetime using what they call a bathtub curve. The bathtub curve describes the failure rate of the product, which is typically high at first during the initial “wear in” period, sometimes described as “infant mortality.” Then the failure rate drops to some low, constant number over the course of the product’s useful life. Finally, as we approach the end of the product’s life, the failure rate rises again, and, eventually, we can expect that essentially all of the products have failed.
The lifetime of a product is normally when a certain percentage of them is expected to fail. Usually, people define the lifetime as when 50% of a product is expected to fail.
Why We Can’t Apply the Bathtub Curve to Dental Implants
But we run into a problem when we try to apply this concept to dental implants. We have enough data to make a good start in the form of this 20-year study of more than 12,500 dental implants.
Initially, dental implants seem to follow the bathtub curve pattern, with a relatively high failure rate. Of the implants placed, nearly 200 implant failures occurred during the first year–usually due to peri-implantitis–accounting for about 60% of the total failures.
Over the next 16 years of dental implant life for which there is good data, another 119 dental implant failed. The total failure rate was therefore only 2.5%, though statistical analysis only allows a reported survival rate of 93.3% after 17 years.
But we never get to a point where dental implants begin to fail regularly–the other side of the bathtub–and we never get anywhere near a 50% failure rate. So we can’t really say what the effective lifetime is for dental implants.
And it’s possible we won’t ever know just how long dental implants really can last. That’s because once we get to 20+ years after people get dental implants, they are typically advanced in age, and many pass away with their implants in place.
So it seems there’s no reason to fear dental implants will fail early. If you would like to learn more about dental implants, please call (760) 832-7915 for an appointment with a Rancho Mirage implant dentist at Country Club Dentistry.