Granted, a professionally crafted set of dentures can provide many patients with a fresh lease on a better quality of life. For many wearers, they represent a second chance after years of less-than-ideal personal oral care.
They may look and mechanically function remarkably like natural permanent teeth, but dentures are not exactly carte blanche to indulge in any and every food and drink one previously enjoyed. In fact, with the addition of even the most durable prosthetics comes several limitations that explicitly narrow the menu.
- SOLID MEATS – This isn’t so much a matter of foods being explicitly out of the question as some dishes requiring some additional accommodation since one is no longer chewing with teeth firmly rooted in gum tissue. Pork chops and steaks will likely prove too tough for dentures to cut unless sliced into very small pieces that won’t require as much chewing. Better still are softer meats such as hamburgers or pulled pork.
- CRUNCHY VEGETABLES – A daily allowance of vegetables provides valuable caches of essential vitamins and minerals at any age, from infants to the elderly. Sadly, hard carrots or stalks of firm celery will quickly wear down even the highest quality of dentures. Tomatoes, leafy greens and mushrooms are equally savory and nutritious choices that taste fine raw, whereas harder vegetables are best served after being steamed, sauteed or otherwise cooked.
- WHOLE NUTS – Nuts of almost any variety are fast jolts of protein-based energy that taste fantastic just about any time, day or night. Sadly, they require biting force that nearly any set of dentures just can’t provide. Fortunately, olives are soft, just as tasty, and provide similar nutritional values. Nut-based cashew or almond milk can offer substitutes for their tastes as well.
- CANDIES – Sorry, seniors with sweet teeth. Caramels, brittles, toffees and other tacky varieties are out of the question. In fact, few foods damage dentures more easily. These confections stick awkwardly and have often dislodged false teeth. The better choice to finally enjoy sweets without having to fret cavities? Soft melt-in-your-mouth chocolates, such as M&Ms.
- SEEDS – It’s unfortunate, really: breads and fruits with small seeds are some of the foods that hit store shelves and pantries with the most intended nutrients intact. They can also plague denture-wearers with debris that can become painfully lodged in teeth and cause severe irritation. Even “seedless” watermelon and grapes can get small bits stuck in dentures. As breads go, bagels or English muffins have virtually no naturally seeds or bits to invade gaps in false teeth.
- POPCORN – Think about the total of all popcorn kernels you’ve ever flossed, brushed or picked out of your teeth. For all the delicious flavor…irritating, isn’t it? Keep that tendency to mildly irritate natural teeth and add the gamble that an accidental bite onto an unpopped kernel may dislodge or even break dentures. Avoid popcorn entirely in favor of rice cakes, which pack all the low-fat crunch and flavor minus the risk of broken teeth.
Remember, these are merely the foods we consider the worst of the worst possible choices for denture-wearers. Much of your future diet will depend on the quality – and price – of your new teeth. The more pricey the dentures, typically, the more closely they’ll resemble the function and strength of natural teeth. The better they replicate permanent teeth, the better you’ll be able to adhere to your lifelong diet. Your dentist will provide much more in-depth guidance to shape your future nutrition.