Dental decay and missing teeth have been proven to significantly impact an individual’s psychosocial behaviour and self-esteem. Fake teeth, which come in the form of dental implants or dentures, have restored smiles all over the world and improved patients’ confidence.
Not only do fake teeth have cosmetic and psychological benefits, but they also improve the oral hygiene, overall health, and jaw function of people with missing, damaged, or decayed teeth.
If you have fake teeth, you’ll know they don’t come cheap. It’s important to take excellent care of your new smile to ensure your replacement teeth last as long as possible.
We know that bacteria can infiltrate our teeth and cause a whole host of problems, including dental decay and infection. But do fake teeth decay?
In this guide, we unpack everything you need to know about fake teeth and dental decay and explain exactly how to take care of your replacement teeth.
Do Fake Teeth Decay?
Firstly, let’s take a look at exactly how tooth decay occurs.
We all have bacteria naturally living in our mouths. This bacteria creates a film over our teeth that is better known as dental plaque.
When we eat sugary foods and beverages, the bacteria in the plaque feeds on this sugar, converting it into energy.
When this process occurs, an acidic substance is produced. This acid chips away at the tooth enamel, which is the outer surface layer of the teeth.
Eventually, the enamel wears down enough to form a cavity, which is a tiny pin-prick-sized hole in the surface of the tooth.
Once a cavity has formed, the bone-like matter under the enamel called the dentine is exposed to plaque and bacteria. The dentine is much softer than the enamel, so decay accelerates quite quickly once it is exposed to bacteria.
If left untreated, the decay can progress down to the pulp, which is the innermost part of the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. From here, abscesses and infections can form in the pulp, which can spread throughout the body via the bloodstream.
If you’ve splurged on replacement teeth for damaged, missing, or decayed teeth, you’re probably wondering if these can decay too.
Fortunately, fake teeth cannot decay.
Do Dental Implants Decay?
No, dental implants do not decay.
Implants are crafted from artificial materials, which means they cannot form cavities. The implant is typically made from titanium, and the crown is usually made from zirconia.
These materials are strong and durable but also look just like a natural tooth.
Though they won’t get cavities, you’ll still need to care for your dental implants as you would your natural teeth.
This is particularly important if you have both natural teeth and dental implants. Taking proper care of your implants will stop plaque from building up between your implant and your real teeth, which will help to prevent gum disease and cavities in your real teeth.
Good dental hygiene will also ensure your implants last. Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in natural teeth and the leading cause of dental implant failure.
Gum disease causes the gums to pull back from the tooth roots, which leaves the teeth with insufficient support. The tooth eventually loosens and falls out. This can also occur with dental implants.
If your crown falls out, you will need to have the implant properly removed and redone.
Dentures cannot decay.
If you have a full set of dentures and no natural teeth, it is impossible for you to get dental cavities.
However, if you have partial dentures and some natural teeth, you are still at risk of cavities in your natural teeth.
In fact, a study found that people with partial dentures are six times more likely to develop tooth decay than people without partial dentures.
One of the key reasons for this is that our mouths shift and move over time, which means unless they’re regularly tailored, your dentures may begin to fit differently over time.
If your dentures don’t fit properly, they can cause sores, plaque buildup, gum disease, and decay, which can lead to cavities and tooth loss in your natural teeth.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay
So, how can you prevent tooth decay in the natural teeth surrounding your false teeth?
Below, we share seven tips for keeping your smile in good nick.
Remember, regular brushing and flossing are still essential even if you have a full set of false teeth. This will help to prevent bacteria buildup and infection in the gums and will ensure your false teeth remain in good condition.
Fluoride is Your Friend
Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and floss at least twice a day too.
Your dentist may recommend periodic fluoride treatments, particularly if you’re not getting enough fluoride from other sources such as water.
They may also suggest you use fluoride trays, which are designed to fit over your teeth and infuse your teeth with an extra fluoride boost.
How Does Fluoride Prevent Tooth Decay?
So, fluoride is good for our teeth, but why exactly?
Essentially, fluoride makes the tooth enamel more resistant to the acidic substance that chips away at our teeth.
When the bacteria in our mouths trigger the acidic attack, our saliva steps in to disrupt the attack by coating our teeth with calcium and phosphate. This replaces some of the minerals that have been lost during the attack.
When our saliva contains fluoride — due to the water we’ve consumed or the toothpaste we’ve used — our teeth can absorb it. The fluoride joins up with the calcium and phosphate in our teeth, which creates fluorapatite.
Fluorapatite defends the teeth from cavities and accelerates the buildup of healthy minerals in the enamel.
Rinse Your Mouth
If you’ve experienced dental decay and cavities before, or if you’re at a higher risk of dental decay, rinse your mouth with a fluoride rinse.
You may choose to rinse morning and night when you brush your teeth. Your dentist may also advise you to rinse your mouth after meals to prevent plaque from building up.
Say Yes to Tap Water
Public water supplies usually contain fluoride, which as we now know helps to reduce tooth decay.
Bottled water often doesn’t contain fluoride, so you’ll miss out on this tooth-strengthening benefit!
Stay Up To Date with Dental Checkups
Keep up to date with your biannual dental checkups.
These cleanings and oral exams allow your dentist to spot any issues early on. This is the key to ensuring any early-stage decay is treated and not left to develop further.
Sealants are plastic coatings that are applied to the back teeth.
They seal the grooves in the teeth that are prone to collecting food, and therefore vulnerable to cavities. The sealants help to prevent plaque and acid from chipping away at the tooth enamel.
Sealants tend to last several years but need to be checked regularly, so be sure to keep up with your dental visits.
Eat Tooth-Friendly Foods
Some foods and drinks are better for our teeth than others.
To keep tooth decay at bay, reduce how often you consume sugary foods and drinks. It’s a good idea to avoid foods that get stuck in your teeth or at least brush your teeth after consuming them.
It’s also important to avoid frequent snacking during the day; this puts your teeth under constant attack, as the bacteria and plaque are continually fueled, which increases the acidic coating on your teeth.
If you do snack on sugary foods and drinks, opt to consume them at mealtimes instead. This essentially reduces how many times your teeth are under attack during the day.
In other words, your teeth will have to fight against the acidic breakdown only three times a day, rather than five or six.
Fresh fruits and vegetables increase saliva flow, so where you can, add more of these healthy foods to your diet.
Water and sugar-free gum can also help by washing away food particles without adding fuel for the bacteria to feed on.
Look into Antibacterial Treatments
If you’re particularly susceptible to tooth decay due to a medical condition, your dentist may recommend an antibacterial mouth rinse or treatment to keep your mouth clean and healthy.
Resolving Your Tooth Decay
Fake teeth don’t decay, but they still need to be cared for just as natural teeth do.
This is especially important if you have some natural teeth remaining, as inadequate cleaning of your false teeth can cause plaque buildup on your surrounding natural teeth, which can lead to decay.
If you’ve noticed signs of tooth decay, it’s essential to check in with your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will be able to treat the decay to ensure it doesn’t progress further. They will also advise you on how to keep your implants or dentures clean to prevent decay and infection in the future.
Request an appointment at Kew Dentistry for a comprehensive consultation, including a clean and advice from our expert dentists.