Wearing dentures, bridges or any non-permanent false teeth can make eating a healthy, high fibre diet rich in fruits and vegetables quite challenging. At Loock Dental we strive for holistic dental health, so we thought we’d offer some handy tips for a diet that is easy on your false teeth while not compromising your overall health.
This is especially important given the impact of what are called lifestyle (or diet-related) diseases on your oral health. (You can read our previous posts on the relationship between obesity and diabetes and oral health, and our post on healthy food for your smile).
We hope this post is also useful to the loved ones of those with dentures, so they can make mealtimes better for everyone at the table.
While many people associate dentures (or ‘false teeth) with the elderly, there are people of all kinds of age brackets who wear them for various reasons. Whether you have a permanent set of dentures or a bridge to replace teeth lost through illness or injury, or bridges which are temporarily holding the place for permanent implants, you could be aged 20 – 100 (or beyond!).
Why are dentures sometimes difficult to eat with?
Dentures can make biting, chewing and moving some kinds of food around your mouth somewhat challenging, especially at first, as you adjust to having them in your mouth. It’s also possible for some kinds of food to get stuck in or under your dentures, causing discomfort.
A lot depends on the positioning of the tooth or teeth that have been replaced and how many of them there are. For instance, a bridge to replace your front teeth might make biting into a crisp apple a little awkward, while chewing shouldn’t be a problem because your back teeth are unaffected.
How can you make eating with dentures easier?
Sometimes the easiest solution at home is simply to remove your dentures for meals and snacks (if they are removable and don’t make up the majority of your teeth) and eat soft food.
Unfortunately there are times when this just wouldn’t work, such as eating out with colleagues or friends, or if the teeth replaced by dentures are ones you need for biting and chewing.
A lot of this gets easier with practice, though there are some foods that can give some people wearing dentures ongoing trouble.
Which foods are the most difficult for people with dentures to eat?
The most tricky food is usually the high fibre and hard fruits and vegetables, such as apples and pears, which require both biting into something hard and lots of chewing. Other foods that can be difficult include nuts, seeds, popcorn and stringier cuts of meat or chewier, more fibrous meat products, such as steak or biltong.
Fibres of little seeds or nut pieces getting lodged between or under dentures can be uncomfortable and a little harder to winkle out than for everyone else. Even some soft food can be tricky at first, such as spaghetti, which requires some interesting mouth movements to eat that are suddenly more complicated!
How can you adapt your meals to keep your favourite foods in there and to keep healthy?
Smoothies and soups are an obvious choice for getting in plenty of nutrients and fibre. However, be aware that some smoothies are very high in sugars and acids which are bad for your health and teeth, and can even count as ‘processed foods,’ so you need to choose your recipes wisely.
Food can be chopped into smaller bite-sized portions to make chewing and eating easier. This doesn’t have to mean having a plate that looks like a small child’s – you can make sophisticated salads, Buddha bowls and poke bowls, for instance, that look and taste sophisticated and properly grown up, with your steak, apples and other more fibrous or chewy foods mixed in.
Legumes such as beans and peas can be a delicious, soft and very healthy part of your diet and still give you a variety of textures. Seeds and whole grains can be soaked and sprouted for a delicious and softer version of these super healthy foods.
You can replace some tougher red meat cuts with more tender ones, such as thinly sliced fillet, or with healthy options such as chopped chicken or, even easier to eat, fresh fish.
Soft fruits such as bananas, melons and grapes can be a relief to eat without much preparation. More fibrous and harder fruits can be thinly sliced or chopped up to make them easier to manage.
Cooked vegetables that are easy to bite and chew shouldn’t present much trouble, but raw or lightly stir-fried or grilled vegetables with more bite can be a little more challenging.
You can try steaming hard vegetables in smaller pieces to soften them without losing nutrients. Finely grating raw vegetables can also be helpful, but if this is still challenging for you to eat, consider adding these vegetables to a smoothie, pureed salsa or soup to get the nutritional benefits without the chewing challenges. Kale, for instance, is a popular ingredient in many soup, juice and smoothie recipes.
Cheese, yogurt and other dairy products can be an easy to bite and chew source of protein and calcium.
When it comes to spaghetti, chopping it up seems to help, or simply switch to other, more bite-sized pasta shapes which are more manageable. Luckily there are so many to chews from (wink, wink!).
We hope you’ve found this post helpful if you are new to wearing dentures or bridges, or if you have a loved one you’d like to support. Let us know any of your own tips in the comments!