How long should dental work last?

How long should dental work last?

Q: I had a lot of dental work done about 6 and half years ago. About 25% of the work has to be redone at the same cost as the first time around. How long should dental work last?

A: We all seem to accept that work on our cars does not last forever and many medical procedure need to be redone, or revised at the same fee or more than when first treated. Examples: knee, hip, back and shoulder surgeries, Lasik eye surgery, facelifts, skin peels, Botox, fillers and many more. I think my late father had two by passes and two valve surgeries in Manhattan I the mid 2000’s.

Our cars: batteries, alternators, wheel bearings, shocks, struts, hoses, fuel injectors, all need replacement or re-treatments. And, what happens when your brand new Pirelli P-Zero tires get a nail? You pay the same price as you just did for a new one.

Dental work is placed in the most unfriendly environment in the body. Forces of mastication in a cornucopia of bacteria and viruses means your work is on the verge of failure every day. If your porcelain veneers were placed in your colon, they would last longer. (But who would see your smile, right?!)

I had the honor this past August to be invited as the key note speaker at the 42nd Academy of LDS Doctors. I was invited by the “Father of American Dentistry”, Gordon Christensen DDS of Utah. Here is some of his longevity research:

Average lifespan minimums:

Large tooth-colored bonding/composite resin fillings-5 years

Complete dentures: 5 years

Partial dentures: 4 years

Large Amalgam (silver) fillings: 14 years

Three-tooth Bridge, metal free: 8 years

PFM (porcelain fused to metal) crown: 15 years

All porcelain, metal free crown: 8 years

Full gold crown: 20 years

Keep in mind these are averages and the research is very gray.  Many dental restorations last less than 5 years due to patients’ poor home care, low frequency of professional visits, medical conditions, medications, poor bites, poor alignment of teeth, diet, age, brittleness of teeth and previous dental work.

Nothing placed in the human body has any firm estimate of longevity. It’s the nature of the beast, or in our case : the“human”.

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