What do Your Teeth and Bathtub Have in Common?

By Kerry Knight

Photo Credit: sodahead.com
If you’re considering getting false teeth, you have two primary options in terms of their material. One is acrylic and the other porcelain.
Many people choose porcelain teeth for a variety of reasons. Porcelain is a harder substance than acrylic, making porcelain teeth more durable.  Because porcelain teeth resist wear, these dentures preserve the normal jaw movement and alignment.  Acrylic teeth are subject to abrasion and will wear down over time, causing changes in the length of the artificial teeth. This, in turn can alter your bite, which could eventually cause Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) issues later on. This condition can become very uncomfortable, if not outright painful. 

Another problem with acrylic dentures is that acrylic contains microscopic pits that can trap and retain bacteria.  Brushing or quick soaking does not effectively remove the bacteria, although overnight soaking does a better job at cleaning dentures.  The bacteria remaining on acrylic teeth can multiply rapidly and cause bad breath, or worse, an infection in your mouth.  

Photo Credit: blisstree.com
One more thing:  Acrylic dentures are about the same price as porcelain. So why not choose the more durable, better functioning material?

Now let’s switch gears.  Glamorous bathtubs today, like the Slipper tub, Double Slipper, Dual-ended, Pedestals, and Roll Tops are made of either acrylic or porcelain.  Interestingly, the pros and cons that apply to dentures apply equally to bathtubs.  Which material do you think is more durable for a tub?  Let me illustrate.  

Porcelain is always the material of choice.  It resists the forces of time and every day wear and tear. Just think of the abrasive cleaners one has to sometimes use in their bathtubs to get rid of soap grime, etc. Acrylic must be cleaned with nonabrasive cleaners.  Otherwise, scratches may occur in the surface of the bathtub.  In fact, if you were to vigorously scrub an acrylic tub repeatedly, especially with an abrasive cleaner, over the years, it would also develop pitting and an uneven surface. 

Photo Credit: medical.angihel.com
Another thing, as we have already shown with dentures, bacteria can get trapped in the microscopic pits of the acrylic material.  You could be setting yourself or someone in your family up for various dermatological conditions if you have an acrylic tube that several people bathe in.  Common skin infections include cellulitis, erysipelas, impetigo, folliculitis, and furuncles and carbuncles.  Most of these are caused by the Streptococcus or Staphylococcus species of bacteria. These conditions can range from being uncomfortable to outright painful, and they’re almost always unattractive. Also keep in mind they’re potentially contagious.

Not so with porcelain.  The glass surface can be easily cleaned and ― importantly ― sterilized.  And from an aesthetic standpoint, porcelain tubs’ high gloss finish can be maintained for a hundred years with appropriate care.  I once owned a porcelain claw foot tub that was dated back to 1878, and it still looked good.  

Recently, I someone call me that wanted to order a porcelain Clawfoot tub.  He explained that he had purchased an acrylic one, but it just hadn’t held up.  He said it had started to fade and because of the weight of the water inside the tub, it had begun to lose its once-firm shape.  The legs of the tub could not even rest on the floor properly.  So he now had a tub that had lost its aesthetic appeal and that had also become unsteady. It may have even become “scarred” with microscopic pitting.  Obviously not a good situation.  

Photo Credit: bathrenovationhq.com
When you think about it, what is acrylic?  It’s a type of plastic.  Acrylic tubs are formed from one piece of  These sheets are put onto a mold and heated to form around the mold. After the tub is formed, fiberglass can be sprayed onto the back of the tub for reinforcement.
colored, plastic acrylic sheets.

However, porcelain is a type of glass.  You simply can’t compare durable cast iron/porcelain with plastic for durability.  Sure, some may counter that porcelain can break easier than some industrial grade plastics, but how often do you see someone drop an anvil in their bathtub?

If you’re looking for a material that will last, porcelain is your go-to choice. These tubs are made by pouring molten iron into a mold of the desired shape, then smoothing it and coating it with a thick layer of enamel.
Porcelain tubs are the most durable on the marketplace. Their finish is resistant to chipping, scratching and denting, as well as most types of chemicals. There are a number of different colors available, and there’s a richness to cast iron that just can’t be matched, truth to tell. Porcelain also tends to retain the water’s heat better than acrylic and other materials. 

And just like the denture illustration I gave earlier, the prices you’ll encounter when comparing acrylic tubs to porcelain tubs are about the same.  

Photo Credit: tubking.com
Consider this: If you had a choice between buying a plastic plate, or one made of fine china, and they were both priced the same, which would you choose? Those who purchase acrylic tubs, especially the nicer designs that I have mentioned, are eventually disappointed.  I had someone tell me, “They just look cheap.”

We decided years ago that Tub King would only carry the highest quality, cast iron/porcelain glamour tubs.  They’re worth every penny and will last a lifetime, if not beyond.

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In this article, I compared the differences between acrylic and porcelain, both as a substance for dentures, as well as for bathtubs. I discussed the various disadvantages of acrylic, especially in comparison to porcelain, and also shared several more positive attributes that definitely make porcelain the material of choice for bathtubs (and dentures).
If you found this article useful, please share it with your friends and co-workers. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the Comment section of this blog.

If you’d like to receive a FREE Clawfoot Tub Buyers’ Guide, click here.  Have a question? Feel free to contact me at the number or email listed at the end of this article and I’ll personally get back to you. It’s been my pleasure sharing this information with you.
Thanks again for visiting with us.

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Alan and Kerry Knight are the owners of Tub King, Inc., and SeniorBathtub.com  in Jacksonville, Florida. Together they have many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. Their companies not only provide superior products, they are also award winners, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” four years running. If you’d like to contact them, call (800) 409-3375 or (800) 843-4231; or send an email to Alan@tubking.com.

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