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Eating With Dentures: Part 1

Why Is It Hard To Chew Food With Dentures?

Chewing food with dentures can be more difficult than chewing food with teeth. This is due to two factors:

1. Dentures lower your overall bite force

Human beings who have all their teeth can generate a bite force anywhere between 150-250 pounds per square inch. Once all teeth are lost, bite force is reduced to around 50 pounds per square inch 1.  The longer someone is without their teeth, the weaker their bite force becomes. One study showed that patients who had complete dentures for more than 15 years had a maximum bite force of about 6 pounds per square inch 2. A decrease in bite force means it can be harder to bite into, and break down, harder foods.

2. Dentures dramatically decrease chewing efficiency

One study showed that the chewing efficiency of a denture wearer was less than one sixth of a person with teeth 3. Dentures are prone to dislodging or tipping when eating hard foods, making it difficult to break those types of food down.  Dentures also affect your ability to tell when your food has been chewed down to a particle size small enough to swallow. The end result is that those with dentures have to chew their food much longer than those who have all their teeth.

 

How Do I Eat With Dentures?

Man and his dentures
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1. Don't Give Up, Keep Practicing And Be Patient

Dentures are not teeth. They don’t feel exactly like teeth and they don’t function exactly like teeth. What worked for you when you had teeth may not work at all with dentures.  As human beings, we generally aren’t that good at new things the first time we try them. The denture wearers who are successful with their dentures are the ones who consistently wear their dentures. Eating with dentures is a very unique skill, the more chewing you do with dentures in, the better you will become at it. Our brains are incredible accommodators, with enough practice it will feel more natural and you will become more efficient at breaking down food

 

2. Practice Chewing With Both Sides Of The Denture At The Same Time

The American Dental Association recommends starting out with soft, small cuts of food and putting half the food on the right side of the denture and the other half on the left side. Practice taking slow bites so that both sides of the denture are biting down on the food at the same time. By keeping pressure on both sides of the denture at the same time, the denture will tip less and it won’t dislodge as much during eating. Click here to see some other recommendations from the American Dental Association.

 

3. Use Blenders, Food Processors, And Crock-Pots To Make Food Easier To Eat

We chew food to make it small enough to swallow and digest.  With decreased chewing efficiency from dentures, it can be difficult (or at the very least, time consuming) to break down food enough to swallow comfortably. There is no greater tool to compensate for this than a blender or food processor.  Both these tools are, in my opinion, mandatory to have if you wear dentures or have difficulty chewing. There is no easier way to mince, chop, blend, puree, or grind up food. Crock-pots are a great tool to make meals for yourself and whoever else is in your home. They can take difficult to chew cuts of meat and make them extremely soft and easy to digest.  You will find that with the help of these kitchen gadgets, the culinary possibilities with dentures are limitless.

 

4. Cooking Food Properly Will Make It Easier To Eat With Dentures

Steaming, boiling, grilling, and baking are all cooking techniques that make hard foods softer and easier to chew.  Foods which normally require heavy bite forces to eat, like carrots or apples, require very little bite force to eat if the proper cooking technique is used.

 

While eating is different when wearing dentures, it certainly is not impossible. Practice makes perfect, so don’t give up. Once you have learned how to eat with dentures, eating can continue to be a source of joy in your life! Be sure to make regular visits to your dentist, who can check to make sure your denture is still fitting and functioning properly. Good luck and have fun, you’re going to do great!

  1. Howell AW, Manley RS: An electronic strain gauge for measuring oral forces, J Dent Res 27:705, 1948.
  2. Carr A, Laney WR: Maximum occlusal force levels in patients with osseointegrated oral implant prostheses and patients with complete dentures, Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants 2:101-110, 1987.
  3. Kapur KK, Soman SD: Masticatory performance and efficiency in denture wearers, J Prosthet Dent 14:687-694, 1964.

Essential Kitchen Appliances To Have With Dentures

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A crock pot is a simple way to prepare meals in advance. Cooking foods, especially meats, at controlled temperatures for long periods of time makes them easy to chew and delicious!

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There is no finer way to puree foods than a Vitamix Blender. It can turn any food into a single, smooth texture which is easy to swallow.

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A food processor is a must have for finely chopping, slicing, and pureeing foods. It does all the work for you, which is especially helpful if your age or health status limits your ability to chop and slice foods by hand.

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