The joys of eating… even with dentures

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EATING….the passion, the pain, the pleasure, the pounds! The revenge! Millions of people enjoy the privilege of eating what they want and having a nutritional diet. There are also millions of people who can no longer eat well or enjoy a nutritional diet because of periodontal disease, poorly fitting dentures, dental implants, oral cancer, oral surgery, chemotherapy, AIDS, and other problems related to painful chewing even when replacement teeth are adequate.

My experience tells me that more women than men wear their denture because women are more reluctant than men are to be seen without teeth. It is also true that more women than men seek both medical and dental treatment and therefore, women are more likely to have dentures and wear them. So, accept your situation! Wear your denture with pride, and begin to enjoy food again.

Myth: You won’t be able to eat with a denture.

Truth: Yes! You will! With practice, you’ll be able to eat many foods you always ate. However, numerous foods can be difficult, among them bread, salads, and corn-on-the-cob. But it is not entirely impossible to manage with an upper and/or lower denture. You will have to avoid whole nuts, bones, and sharp seafood shells that can break the teeth out of your denture and maybe cut your mouth.

The following instruction in the art of eating after receiving a full upper denture can benefit most people who are unable to properly chew their food for any reason. Being unable to properly chew and eat a healthy diet is a serious situation than can lead to digestive problems, malnutrition, and a lowered quality of life. If you experience pain while eating after getting your immediate denture, it shouldn’t last long and your gums will eventually toughen up. Soon, you’ll be bored with soft foods and want to try solid foods. Use your positive attitude and go for it.

Avoid acidic and spicy foods for the first few days, because they may irritate your gums. Some fruit juices may cause a burning sensation, unless you can sip them through a straw, which would be a problem if you’ve lost your sucking capabilities. Stay away from extremely hot liquids so you don’t accidentally burn your mouth. It can take some three to four weeks to manage solid food. When you begin to eat solids again, cut them into small pieces. You really can eat almost anything this way. Be careful when experimenting with hard foods, including fruits and vegetables. Cook vegetables enough to soften them. Steam them to retain the vitamins and minerals they provide.

When you begin chewing, try to keep the food on both sides of your mouth for balance. Your denture might tip to one side or the other if you don’t do this, at least until you get used to eating again.

The first thing you may notice is that you are no longer able to bite into something head-on and pull it the way you used to. You didn’t know you did that, did you? Well, you did, and now you can’t.

Tearing and pulling food after biting into it will cause your denture to come loose: Big surprise! Uncomfortable, unpleasant, and painful. We’re used to biting into a piece of food and pushing our heads forward at the same time. Bite into a sandwich from the side of your mouth and cut it with those teeth. Start to pull your head back, just a little, as you take a bite to get leverage. Do not eat whole nuts. Most people love to snack on peanuts and raisins. Many stopped for quite a while after receiving their denture, but I understand they’re back in their diet. They tell me they eat only halved or chopped nuts because whole nuts can break the teeth in a denture.

When you start eating regular food again, you might get sore spots from your denture if it moves while you eat. Go back to soft food and ease back into the harder food. Acceptance, patience, and practise work best while relearning to chew. If the situation does not improve, use an adhesive and see your dental professional.

While you eat, tiny particles of food debris can lodge themselves under your denture and they will not go away by themselves. First, they will drive you to distraction. They are the oral equivalent of a fairy tale, which I believe should have been titled ‘THE PRINCESS AND THE FREAKIN’ PEA’. You’ll have to remove your denture, rinse it and your mouth, put the denture back in, and check whether or not the pea is still there. It might be. Take your time. Those peas are so small, they can be hard to locate and remove. You might think you’ve succeeded, only to find that when you walk away from the sink feeling like a superior being, the pea is still there, but now it’s in a somewhat different location. Keep rinsing until it leaves, but this could take a while.

Another interesting and fun fact is that you won’t feel hot and cold on the roof of your mouth when you have a full upper denture, so don’t let temperature fool you. You don’t want to burn your mouth or get a brain freeze. Be careful to avoid hard items like bones, whole nuts, and sharp –edged seafood shells that can break your denture and cut your mouth. The good news is that having a denture won’t diminish the taste of your food, because your taste buds are on the back of your tongue. If the bite on your denture is correct, with acceptance, patience, and time, you will find eating a pleasurable and satisfying experience.

When you begin to enjoy food, choose wisely. How and what you eat affects your general health; which affects your oral health; which affects your general health. Everything is connected.

Poor nutrition means a poor diet. You should always eat food high in nutrients to fight off infections, especially now. Poor nutrition can affect your entire immune system, and can mean a return to periodontal disease and tooth decay in remaining natural teeth, as well as make you susceptible to other illnesses. People with lowered immune systems are at a higher risk for periodontal disease, but this is another topic.