Fake teeth are not the end of the world. In fact, a lot of people have them…probably more than you realize. Over time, the quality of fake teeth has improved immensely.
But as good as today’s fake teeth are, they aren’t perfect. For one thing, fake teeth can complicate orthodontic treatment. They change the way your teeth shift, and depending on the type of fake tooth you have, you might not be a good candidate for orthodontic treatment.
There are a lot of variables that affect whether or not you’re a good candidate for orthodontic treatment with home aligners. In this guide, we’ll explain the factors that impact your candidacy. While we can’t definitively state whether or not you’ll be a good candidate for aligner treatment, we can give you a better picture of how treatment is affected by fake teeth.
Reasons You Might Need Fake Teeth
Ideally, your teeth are permanent. But life happens…and sometimes, your teeth become damaged enough or fall out. When that happens, you need a replacement tooth. If you don’t replace the tooth, your perfectly healthy teeth could shift. Normally, the teeth support each other, almost like they’re leaning against each other. But when one tooth goes away, the surrounding teeth have less support and may move into the gap created by the old tooth. Putting a tooth into the gap keeps things in place.
Here are a few common reasons why you might have to get a fake tooth:
- Tooth and/or gum disease: Overall, your teeth are pretty solidly implanted into your gums. But if you get a severe infection due to poor teeth cleaning, the anchor within your teeth and gums can break down enough to make one or more teeth fall out.
- Decay: Teeth can erode over time. Part of that is just natural (worn enamel from chewing). But if your decay gets past the normal level, you could require a replacement tooth.
- Genetic condition: While rare, sometimes a person will lose a tooth simply because of genetics. Despite good dental habits, one or more teeth might be too compromised to use.
- Injury or impact: Perhaps you’ve heard jokes about hockey players never having all their teeth. Well, there’s some truth to that; if your mouth gets hit hard enough, one of your teeth can be dislodged.
Thankfully, if you do need a replacement tooth for any of the above conditions, there are plenty of great options available.
Types of Fake Teeth
Fake teeth aren’t as bad as commercials and cartoons make them out to be…at least, not all replacement teeth are. Technically speaking, there are lots of different types of false teeth. More importantly, the type of fake tooth (or teeth) you have can affect your treatment. Here are some of the most common types of fake teeth:
- Dental implants: Implants have three important components: a custom crown designed to look like your missing tooth, an implant embedded in your jawbone, and a connector. Essentially, the connector allows you to put on your implant as if it was a screw. Implants are pretty painful to insert, but the advantage to them is that they can be inserted anywhere in the mouth. Plus, they’re extremely durable.
- Dental bridges: Unlike dental implants, bridges aren’t anchored directly into your jawbone. Instead, bridges use the two surrounding teeth as anchors. The fake tooth sits between those teeth (called abutment teeth), and a cementing agent binds the three together.
- Partial dentures: Bridges and implants are, for the most part, permanent once inserted. Partial dentures are a bit different, as they can be removed. The new replacement teeth are attached to a flesh-colored plastic base. They look a lot like traditional retainers that have fake teeth on them.
- Full dentures: Full dentures are used when an entire arch of teeth is too compromised to use the above options. Instead of filling in the gaps, full dentures replace either the top or bottom teeth completely.
Understandably, not all of these types of fake teeth are compatible with orthodontic treatment.
How Fake Teeth Can Affect Home Aligner Treatment
To understand how fake teeth can affect treatment, it’s important to know how natural teeth shift during orthodontic treatment. All of your permanent teeth are anchored into your jawbone by your roots and periodontal ligaments. When you wear a clear aligner, the plastic pulls on your teeth—even down to the roots. Your soft tissues and even your bones around your teeth become slightly inflamed and soften, allowing the teeth to move.
However, fake teeth don’t respond to orthodontic treatment the same way. In fact, depending on the type, fake teeth may not respond at all. That’s because the components aren’t made of materials that soften. For example, dental implants cannot be moved because they’re fused into the jawbone with metal. Dental bridges can shift a little, but not much.
Ultimately, the pretreatment position of the fake teeth affects how effective treatment will be. For example, if a patient has a dental implant, but there is tooth spacing (gaps between the teeth), they might be able to have orthodontic treatment to pull the teeth together—without actually moving the implant itself.
Our teeth tend to shift towards the front of the mouth as we age, causing crowding. If you had an implant or bridge installed earlier in life but now your teeth have crowded around the fake, immovable one, orthodontic treatment may be an option.
Another thing to note: if you need fake teeth installed and you want to have orthodontic treatment, too, then your orthodontist can plan your treatment accordingly. He or she can make space for the fake teeth, implant it in the ideal finishing position, or whatever’s necessary to make your smile perfect in the long-term.
Long story short: if you have fake teeth, then you might be able to get orthodontic treatment. You might not. The best way to find out is to consult your dentist or orthodontist.
Which Companies Can Still Provide Treatment?
We can’t tell you for sure whether or not a home aligner company will be able to treat your case if you have one or more fake teeth. Each home aligner company we’ve reviewed might be able to provide treatment, but it ultimately depends on the severity of your condition.
In some cases, home aligners can safely shift your teeth without compromising the integrity of the fake ones. But in others, you might need more complicated shifts that require orthodontist oversight throughout treatment. If that’s true, you might be a better candidate for Invisalign or braces.
To know for sure if you’re a good candidate for their treatment, the dentists or orthodontists at your chosen aligner company will need to evaluate your case. But before they can evaluate your case, you’ll need to order an impression kit. With it, you’ll make 3D molds of your teeth that allow the treatment designers to see the current position of your smile. (It’s also a good rule of thumb to let them know you have an implant so they can give it special attention in their evaluation).
When it comes to treating cases of misalignment—fake teeth included—we have three companies that win our top recommendations. And we love each of them for different reasons:
Byte is our all-around favorite service, and they perform well in every category. But what really stands out is their treatment speed; byte treatment typically lasts just 3 months. They also offer both daytime and nighttime treatment options. Last but not least, byte offers a byte-for-Life guarantee.
If your teeth ever shift post-treatment (and you’ve worn your retainers as prescribed), then byte will send you new aligners to get your smile back to perfection. To get all the details on our top-ranked home aligner, read our full byte review.
If you’re uncomfortable with the minimal orthodontist oversight available from most home aligners, Candid provides a good solution: Remote Monitoring. As a Candid patient, you’ll have regular virtual check-ins with your orthodontist.
That orthodontist reviews your progress, checks for any issues, and if possible, gives you the go-ahead to move on to your next aligner. Intrigued? Check out our full Candid review.
If you’re looking for an affordable treatment option, then look no further than AlignerCo. Their treatment kit costs far less than other home aligners and even less than braces: $1,145. They also have regular treatment check-ins to help keep you on track. For more information about AlignerCo, check out our full review.
Fake teeth or missing teeth don’t automatically disqualify you as a candidate for orthodontic treatment with home aligners. However, it does complicate your evaluation process. Each company reserves the right to approve or deny potential cases based on what they are confident they can treat.
That said, before you go through the hassle of ordering a kit and making impressions, we’d recommend that you consult with your dentist to learn if your condition can even be treated with braces or aligners anyway.