Dentures are a popular solution for individuals who are missing any number of natural teeth. These prosthetic teeth can dramatically improve oral function and appearance, though first-time wearers report various challenges adjusting to new dentures that dentists can address.Most new denture wearers require about one month to adjust to the sensations accompanying a foreign substance…
What To Eat When Adjusting to New Dentures
If you are adjusting to new dentures, you are far from alone. The ADA estimates that 120 million Americans are missing teeth, with 36 million missing all of them. Even those who have used dentures before may need replacements that they must get accustomed to. A major part of the adjustment is learning what to eat. While dentures enable people with missing teeth to better eat and speak, there are still some changes to be aware of.
At first, dentures will likely feel awkward in the mouth, as if they are too big, and the gums will be sensitive to their presence. The mouth also produces more saliva, which can make the dentures slip slightly. Irritation and sores are not uncommon. On top of this, one effectively needs to learn how to bite properly with dentures, which is very different from using natural teeth.
Because of this, it is recommended that you start with soft or liquid foods to minimize chewing. Scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, and soups are good choices. Avoid sticky foods that can be difficult to remove from dentures, and watch out for spicy foods that can irritate an already sore mouth. Also, be careful with the food that is served hot or cold. Many new wearers find that judging the temperature of food is difficult, having relied on the teeth to feel heat or cold before biting down fully; try other ways to judge temperature, such as with your lips.
While adjusting to new dentures, they will gradually feel more comfortable in your mouth. Soon, you can start eating firmer foods again. As you continue to practice, you can gradually expand your food options. Some good choices at this stage include:
- Cooked vegetables, especially boiled or steamed
- Ground beef or turkey
- Pasta and cooked rice
- Poultry, eggs, or fish
- Soft bread
- Stewed or slow-cooked meats (e.g. beef brisket, pulled pork)
Cutting food into small pieces or strips helps, so think about this when choosing what to eat. Try to use both sides of the mouth to distribute pressure evenly, and if you have a hard time swallowing, take a drink to wash it down. Avoid foods that you will need to bite into with your front teeth; if you do eat them anyway, focus on using your canines instead of your incisors.
Even when you are adjusted, you will still face some dietary restrictions. Red meats, for instance, are often tough to chew, so you might choose poultry or fish over a steak. Sticky and crunchy foods are likely to still be an issue as well; even with more practice in chewing, they can get stuck in your dentures. Choose soft, ripe fruits and cooked vegetables over apples or raw carrots, and steer clear of crunchy snacks that may leave bits and pieces in your teeth, like crackers, popcorn, and whole nuts. Candy lovers can enjoy chocolate, preferably without toffee or nuts, and ice cream or frozen yogurt is a welcome treat.
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