Dentures: Learning to eat again
Learning to eat with new dentures requires time and patience.
Before placing food in the mouth, bring the teeth together and swallow. This will help to seat the denture fully. Then place small bites of food in the mouth and chew it slowly on the side that seems the most natural and comfortable. Try to move the jaw in a straight up and down motion. Shifting the lower jaw to get a shearing motion may cause the dentures to “pop up”.
Avoid foods that are hard, tough, sticky, or require considerable chewing. Vegetables should be cooked. Doughy foods, such as breads will stick to dentures and should be eaten with liquids. When trying to eat a sandwich, cookies or any other food that is generally bitten down on with the front teeth and torn off, the denture can dislodge. Some people can learn how to use their front teeth, but not everyone will be able to do this. Cut the food into smaller pieces, hold it against the upper front teeth or lower front teeth, whichever is more comfortable, slowly bring the teeth together through the food and then tear the remaining section. If sandwiches continue to be a problem, cut them into bite sized pieces.
Food can lose some flavor with dentures.
Food can collect under your dentures. Food that normally drifts onto the floor of the mouth of into the cheeks may find its way under the lower denture. Upward and backward movements of the tongue (as in swallowing) may force food under the upper denture. Food can adhere to the plastic surfaces much easier then to tissues in the mouth. People wearing dentures are far more conscious of food collecting in their mouths that those with natural teeth are. This is because the denture flanges (sides) occupy space where food normally collects. The only practical solution is to change your eating habits. Try eating smaller amounts more slowly and clear your mouth as well as possible before taking more food.
Liquid can sometimes present a problem especially for lower dentures. If you are in the habit of holding a liquid in your mouth long enough to taste it, the denture will invariable loosen. It is usually the lower denture that causes the most trouble. In order to overcome this, you must break the habit of momentarily holding the liquid and keep the function of swallowing continually. This means that as soon as the liquid fills your mouth, you should swallow.
Some patients complain of saliva collecting under the upper denture. The upper denture does cover the salivary glands on the cheek side of the denture. The majority of people are able to express the saliva from under their denture by bracing the lower jaw against the upper jaw and swallowing. However, if the saliva gets trapped in the front part of the denture, you will have to removed it and rinse with water.
When patients gag with their dentures in their mouths, they usually insist it be because the upper denture extends too far back in the mouth. This may or may not be the case. If you insist that the dentist trim the back of the denture, if will usually be at the expense of retention, causing the denture to become loose. Sometimes the presence of a hard candy in the mouth relieves the tendency to gag. Some people experience momentary gagging every time they place the dentures in their mouths. This condition may continue indefinitely, but in most cases, the patient psychologically overcomes the sensation.
Soreness goes hand in hand with a new denture. All new dentures “settle,” and all tissues do not accept pressure in the same manner. Whenever soreness exists, allow the dentist to see you and make the appropriate adjustments. Often times it can take a few adjustments. The most common cause of sore spots is a bite that is off. The bite or occlusion is the single most important aspect of a well fitting denture.
Biting the cheek with new dentures is common. It in no way implies that the teeth are too wide or positioned incorrectly. It can be the result of flabby cheek muscles, which the denture will help overcome in a few days. If the condition becomes troublesome, the dentist will round off the outside edges of the teeth so no damage is done to the cheek tissue. For some people this may take more than one adjustment.
These are some of the more common issues that new denture wearers experience. You may or may not experience some or all of these. The most important thing is to keep an open line of communication with your dentist, and allow him to help you through the process. At River Valley Smile Center, Dr Liggett takes great pride in the dentures that he creates. He feels strongly that his job is to make you the best fitting most natural denture that is possible.