How Long Will It Last
August 16, 2013
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How Long Will It Last…

            Through the years, I’ve had a variety of restorations to fix my two front teeth.  A date (at age ten) with the nicest basketball court left me with a lifetime of dental maintenance.  At the age of thirty-seven, I’m on my third set of crowns. 

            Unfortunately, no dental work lasts forever.  If you live long enough, most any dental restoration will eventually need to be repaired or replaced.

            A common question patients ask is, “How long will this repair of this tooth last me?”

            As with any health issue, the answer will vary from person to person.  There is no  guaranteed life span of any filling, crown, implant, root canal, denture, or any other dental restoration.  Every procedure is different.  Sometimes, great dental work fails despite our best efforts.  Perfection is unattainable.  Each and every patient has a different mix of diet, oral hygiene, bite, and bacteria.  The mix of these four has a major effect on how long restorations last.  Another factor is a patient’s vulnerability to gum disease and cavities.  Sometimes, dental procedures fail because of the harsh oral environment they live in.  The mouth, filled with acid, bacteria, strong biting forces, and constant use, is a tough place to thrive.

So how does one help dental work to last?  As with a lot of things in life, focus on controlling what you can control and do not spend energy worrying about the things you cannot.  Maintenance is the key.

Follow directions.  At the end of most any dental procedure, a dentist or dental assistant will go through a list of do’s and don’ts.  Following these directions is a good way to help things last.

Secondly, take care of yourself.  We see quite a few failures, simply because patients do not maintain their dental work.  Brush.  Floss. Use fluoride rinses and toothpaste.  Keep a regular schedule of recommended dental cleanings and exams.  Small problems can often be caught on routine x-rays and fixed before they become catastrophic.  Put yourself first.

Finally, be aware of your teeth.  Failing teeth or dental restorations often give off hints that there is a problem.  A  twinge here or some cold or sweet sensitivity there can often be your body’s warning of an impending problem.  Listen to the whispers and see a dentist before treatment becomes more extensive and more expensive.

Until next week, keep smiling.

-Please send comments to Drs. Parrish at