You're not alone; nearly 50 million Americans wear partial or complete sets of dentures. And many new denture wearers have similar concerns, but don't worry. Your new dentures may feel a little awkward at first, but with a little time, you'll learn how to eat properly and speak clearly again.
If you've had problems with your teeth for a long time, you may have neglected your diet. Typically the more teeth a person is missing the unhealthier the diet gets. Unfortunately, when people get dentures, they don't always change the bad dietary habits they developed. But don't let this happen to you. Eating a nutritious diet is important for the health of your mouth as well as the rest of your body.
Once you get used to your new dentures, make the effort to choose healthier foods. Be sure to get plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in the B vitamin folate and vitamin C (important for healthy gums) plus dairy products - you'll need calcium to help keep your jaw bone healthy.
Adjusting to life with dentures may take a little time. You should be able to chew most foods with dentures that fit properly, however you may need a little practice at first. Here are some tips for learning to eat with dentures:
- Start with liquids, purees and soft foods such as apple sauce, puddings, cooked cereals, chopped cooked eggs and soup broth.
- Be careful with hot liquids and foods so you don't burn your mouth. You won't be able to judge the temperatures as well due to the insulating quality of the denture.
- Don't hold liquids in your mouth for a long time before swallowing. This may loosen lower dentures.
- You might find that foods taste differently with dentures, however your sense of taste should improve over time.
- When you're ready to move on to solid foods, be sure to cut your foods into very small pieces.
- Distribute your food evenly on both sides in the back of your mouth when you chew, this will help keep your dentures more stable while you eat.
- Chew slowly and thoroughly before you swallow - don't gulp down large pieces of unchewed food because you could choke on them.
- Slice fresh fruits and vegetables into very thin slices or chop them finely so they are easy to chew, or cook them before serving.
- Whole grain breads and cereals are good for you, but they may stick to your teeth - eat them with liquids to make them easier to chew and swallow.
- Replace tougher red meats with poultry, fish, eggs and legumes, or choose stewed or slow-cooked meats.
- Denture adhesives may help for eating foods that require a strong bite (like corn on the cob), but you may wish to avoid very hard or very sticky foods.
You should be able to eat almost anything, but there are some food that may always be difficult to eat, such as foods that are hard, sticky or contain small particles. Be cautious with whole fresh fruits, hard crusty breads, tough red meats, peanut butter, chewing gum, sticky candy, fruits and berries with seeds, nuts and coconut.
"Fixodent Beauty & Aging Survey." Proctor and Gamble. August 22nd - August 31, 2009.
Touger-Decker R, Sirois DA, Mobley CC., "Nutrition and Oral Medicine." Springer-Verlag New York, LLC. Published January 2005.