There’s no getting around the fact that tooth loss can be a traumatic experience, at any age. When you lose one or more teeth, whether you suffer an accident, illness, or injury, or long-term tooth decay is to blame, just for example, you probably just want to find a way to fix the problem, restore your smile, and get back to normal so you can eat, drink, and smile with confidence.
While dental implants are often considered the ideal solution for tooth loss, the procedure can be pricy and not every patient is a good candidate. However, partial or full dentures provide an alternative solution that may work better for some patients.
When you get dentures, however, you will probably have to make a few adjustments in order to gain the best function and the greatest benefits from your replacement teeth. Here are a few things you need to know about eating with dentures.
The Transition Takes Time Adjusting to wearing dentures takes time, especially if tooth loss or removal was recent and the mouth is still healing. Recovery alone can take several weeks, during which learning to wear dentures may be more difficult than usual. Even when the mouth is fully healed from tooth loss, it can take time to get used to the feeling of wearing dentures.
It’s natural to go through a period of learning to function while wearing dentures, and there may be some side effects initially. In some cases, dentures may cause aches and pains associated with wear, or they may hurt only when chewing. Over time, your mouth should become acclimated and this symptom should fade. Another common symptom is differences in the way food tastes, and this may be addressed by adding seasoning.
You May Need Several Adjustments Even though your dentist or prosthodontist will create custom dentures designed to fit your mouth and replicate the feel of your natural teeth as much as possible, it’s normal to require several adjustments to get the fit just right, not only initially, but over time as your jaw bone naturally settles with no teeth to support.
Dentures that don’t quite fit could suffer some slippage that irritates gums and complicates chewing. They could brush against the tongue or back of the mouth and cause gagging. They may not create a perfect bite pattern, making it difficult to chew. Be patient and visit your dentist or prosthodontist for adjustments as needed until your dentures begin to feel more comfortable and natural in your mouth.
Start with Soft Foods Just like a child with new teeth coming in, it’s best to take your time learning how to
chew with new dentures. One great way to start is by eating soft foods that are easy to chew until you get used to the mechanics of chewing with your new teeth.
Foods like scrambled eggs, pasta, mashed or baked potatoes, and so on can offer nutrition with minimal need for chewing, but just enough that you’ll start to become acclimated to the basic action. When you start to feel comfortable and confident with these foods, you can move on to items that require more chewing. You’ll just want to make sure to cut them into bite-sized pieces first since biting is often more difficult that chewing at the sides or back of the mouth.
Experiment with More Difficult Foods before Eating Them in Public As you learn to eat with confidence, you should be able to return to the vast majority of foods you love, including even hard items like crunchy fruits and vegetables or nuts. However, you should always experiment in the comfort of your home first.
What you’re likely to find is that you can eat these items, but not necessarily bite into them with your front teeth, at least not without unseating your dentures. Biting may be easier with the side of your mouth, or you might feel more comfortable working with bite-size chunks.
Consider Anchor Implants Learning to function with full dentures can be difficult, even if you’ve had partial dentures before. If you’re struggling to adjust and having difficulty that compromises your nutrition and your confidence, you might want to consider the possibility of adding a few dental implants to anchor dentures so that you can gain the stability, security, and confidence to eat and smile again. Ask your dentist if you’re a good candidate for this type of treatment plan.