Among the understandable concerns people have when getting new dentures for the first time, are ‘how and what can I eat with dentures?’ Be assured, while there are some foods that are best avoided, new denture wearers do not have to go hungry. In fact, they can eat as well as those with natural teeth, albeit with some adjustment.
The extent of change in your diet to accommodate dentures is subjective. People have differing degrees of tolerance and adaptivity, which can improve as they become more confident and accustomed to their new dentures. Small changes to your meal preparation may also widen your food choices. Reducing the bite size or texture of the ingredients can allow them back into your diet, for example. Think of a whole steak in contrast to a steak slow-cook casserole. Talking to long term denture wearers about how they manage may help. It pays to be aware though, people rarely talk about what they can eat, rather they seem to concentrate what they feel deprived of; a phenomenon known as ‘negative bias’, which humans are hardwired for.
Wearing dentures for the first time?
Perhaps you’re the proud recipient of a new denture and a new smile. Congratulations! Top of mind will be how you make that new denture work best for you, especially in the all-important eating department.
Without a doubt, wearing dentures for the first time presents some challenges as you become accustomed to a new way of being. Not only have you undergone the ordeal of tooth extractions and associated procedures, but now you must contend with the foreign presence of a denture in your mouth. This means learning to smile, speak, sing, laugh and importantly, eat again. Many people sail through the process with minimal fuss. It’s helpful to remember there are millions of people worldwide who enjoy the benefit of dentures in their everyday lives. A few find the transition more challenging, especially when it comes to foods you can’t eat with dentures. Having tips and advice on how to smooth the way can help.
Are there foods you can’t eat with dentures?
While some foods are definitely in the ‘no-go zone’ for denture wearers, there are plenty of alternatives. A bonus is the alternatives are often healthier. Other favourite foods may simply need to be prepared in different ways.
Foods you can’t eat with dentures and their alternatives
- Steak and other chewy meat – substitute with more tender cuts of meat cut into small pieces, slow cooked meat, fish or chicken
- Nuts, seeds and popcorn can lodge beneath your denture causing discomfort or the denture to dislodge – try pitted olives or berries as healthy snack alternatives
- Anything with seeds like bread, biscuits or crackers which inevitably lodge beneath your denture – try softer breads without chewy crusts or seeds
- Sticky foods like nut butters or confectionary – dips, tapenades or guacamole are good alternatives. Ice-cream, custard or yoghurt are good, sweet substitutes
- Some hard fruits like apples or raw vegetables - substitute with cooked or mashed vegetables or pureed versions of fruit in smoothies for example
- Chewing gum with dentures is usually not a good idea – the sticky nature of the gum can break the suction which keeps your denture in place, causing them to become loose. Gum residue can stick to the denture and be difficult to remove. However, there are caveats. See below*
- Some drinks like red wine, tea and coffee can stain your sparkling new teeth if taken in excess. Cleaning soon after drinking can mitigate any staining.
Beyond the irritation of getting food stuck beneath your dentures is the potential hard and sticky foods have for damage. Because we seem to favour one side for chewing our food, uneven pressure trying to chew food like nuts or steak may destabilise your denture creating the possibility of breakage or causing sore spots where the gum is rubbed.
*Chewing gum with dentures
While chewing gum with dentures can be a negative experience as outlined above, there are exceptions. Manufacturers have developed softer, non-stick chewing gums specifically for denture wearers. With the problem of stickiness overcome, chewing gum for new denture wearers can be beneficial for the following reasons:
- The act of chewing helps you re-learn to bite and chew, assisting in the adjustment of facial and oral muscles to your new dentures.
- Constant chewing action stimulates the production of saliva, mitigating the problem of dry mouth often experienced by new denture wearers.i
Chewing slowly and evenly will avoid undue pressure on your gums and the possibility of gnawing your inner cheeks by mistake. One study noted minimal negatives with the use of nicotine gum, with most study participants reporting ease of chewing with little gum adherence to their dentures.ii
Meals for someone with no teeth
During the journey to getting new dentures, you may feel your food choices are severely limited. If you have opted to wait until the healing has taken place after tooth extraction, it may be some time before your dentures can be fitted. So, if this is the case what are your food options? While chewing is out for a while, there are other soft food options without sacrificing your taste enjoyment or nutrition.
- Eggs – scrambled, poached, omelette, or even hard boiled or made into custards or quiches
- Steamed and mashed vegetables – potato, broccoli, pumpkin, spinach, and other varied vegetables
- Steamed rice or pasta
- Smoothies with fruit and/or leafy green vegetables
- Juices – fruit or vegetables or combinations of both
- Stewed or pureed fruits
- Soups – pureed vegetable or meat broths
- Dairy – yoghurt, cottage cheese, milk puddings
- Porridge or oatmeal - with milk and soft berries or grated/stewed apple
- Cooked legumes - like refried beans or baked beans
The internet abounds with great recipes - a quick search will find something untaxing for a healing mouth that also appeals to your taste buds.
A final word
Getting new dentures can seem overwhelming in the early stages. One of the most challenging aspects, is not being able to eat as you did with natural teeth. Don’t despair. With patience and persistence, you will find new ways to enjoy your favourite foods again and master the ability to wear your dentures with confidence. Knowing what you can and can’t eat without causing discomfort or damaging your denture or gums, will make the process easier.
Northern Rivers Denture Clinic is located in the heart of Tweed Heads, southern Gold Coast. Finally have the smile you deserve with handcrafted, quality dentures.