dental implantsImplants, dentures, bridges and crowns—all these dental terms can be really confusing. It’s always best to keep and maintain your “real teeth” but that’s not always possible. Our age, habits and sheer genetics play a big role, and there’s a chance that you’ll lose teeth as you get older. However, dental implants are the next best thing after your “real teeth” and they look and act just like the real deal. How are they different from dentures, crowns and bridges, though?

Dentures are false teeth that are often removable. They can look great, but they don’t always act and feel like genuine teeth. Fortunately, the dental industry has come a long way since dentures of the past. Today, you may be a good candidate for “permanent dentures” and adhesives to keep removable dentures in place are much sturdier.

A “bridge” is when a foundation is created in the space between two teeth to hold a false tooth in place. A “crown” is a false tooth placed on top of an existing tooth which has likely been damaged or was already misshapen. It fits on top of that existing tooth to help with aesthetics, chewing, speaking and bite.

Implants are exactly what they sound like: A false tooth permanently “implanted” into your jaw.

The Benefits of Implants

If you’re a good candidate for implants, you’ll need at least two appointments with your dentist. During the first appointment, any remaining damaged tooth is extracted. A permanent metal post is implanted through the gum and into the jaw bone. It’s a semi-invasive procedure, but your dentist will make sure you’re comfortable and have no pain. A temporary tooth is put on the post for comfort while your permanent false tooth is made in a lab.

It can take several weeks for the mouth to heal around the post (12 weeks is common). During this time, your temporary tooth will let you eat, drink, speak and smile normally. When the area is healed, your permanent tooth is placed on the post. For many, dental implants can last a lifetime.