Getting dentures can be a big relief if you've been dealing with bad teeth for a while. You'll get rid of infected teeth, clear up any gum infection, restore your bright, even smile, and even get a mini-facelift from the support that the new dentures give your face. However, you'll also have an adjustment period. It can be tough to get used to taking your teeth in and out, talking, and smiling while wearing false teeth, and it can be especially difficult to get used to eating with your new dentures. Eating with dentures is never going to be quite the same as eating with your natural teeth, but there are a few things that you can do to help you adjust to eating with your new set of teeth and keep your dentures in great shape.
Your dentist will probably want you to eat soft foods for at least a few days after you have your teeth extracted and your new dentures fitted. Once you're able to eat solid foods again, you're probably going to be pretty hungry and ready for a big meal. However, don't try to wolf down your food at a rapid rate. As a matter of fact, it's a good idea to cut your food into smaller portions than you normally do and make sure to eat one bite at a time, making sure to chew thoroughly.
With your natural teeth, you have a bite force of around 200 to 250 pounds. When you have your new dentures in, that bite force drops to around 50 pounds. That extreme dropoff means that you're not going to be able to chew your food as easily, and you'll have to work harder to ensure that you chew thoroughly. Smaller pieces help ensure that you can chew your food as completely as you should. In addition to being a choking hazard, partially-chewed food isn't digested as well by your body. Your teeth are actually an important part of the digestive process.
When you fail to chew your food completely, the enzymes that are supposed to break down the food in your stomach only break down the outer edges of the food. Then, the undigested pieces begin to decompose before they can be properly broken down, which can result in bacteria or fungi in your digestive tract and bloodstream. Your body also won't be able to absorb as many nutrients from the food. Cutting your food into smaller pieces that your new dentures can easily chew can prevent the gastrointestinal and other health problems that can be caused by poorly chewed food.
Spice It Up
One of the things that surprises many new denture wearers is the change you might experience in the way your food tastes. Not all denture wearers experience this, but many do. You're more likely to experience a change or loss in food taste if you get full upper dentures that cover your upper palate.
Your tastebuds are located on your tongue, so you would think that dentures wouldn't affect the taste at all—after all, they don't cover your tongue. Most likely, if you experience a loss of taste or different tastes, it's because your tongue touches the roof of your mouth as you chew, so you end up tasting the part of the denture covering your palate. This may taste like nothing at all, which can make your food seem bland. If the denture needs to be cleaned, you may taste old food particles clinging to the palate, which may have an unpleasant taste. Also, depending on what kind and how much denture adhesive you use, you may also end up tasting that.
It's easy enough to clean the dentures so that you don't taste old food, or to switch your denture adhesive or use less of it if you wind up tasting that. Overcoming the bland taste is more difficult, but your best bet is to add extra spices to your food. Stay away from using too much sugar or salt, which can cause health problems, but use flavorful herbs like basil and tarragon and strong spices like red pepper or cinnamon to give your food some additional flavor that can overpower the bland taste.
Chew on Both Sides
When you eat, try to chew on both sides of your mouth whenever possible. You may be out of the habit of doing this, especially if you had missing teeth or infections before your dentures that caused you to favor one side of your mouth or the other. Make a conscious effort to use both sides of your dentures.
Chewing on both sides will help reduce the chance of denture slippage while eating, because your teeth will still be balanced while you're chewing. Also, chewing on both sides reduces wear and tear on one side of your denture, which can help them stay in good shape and last longer.
Adjusting to your new dentures may sound difficult, but you'll get used to it in no time. Don't hesitate to ask your dentist about anything that feels strange or painful when using your new dentures.