Eating Resources For Those With Dental Treatments & Dental Conditions
Eating starts with chewing. Think of your head as the perfect chewing machine, one with many moving parts which must be in good working order to get the job done properly. Our teeth are set firmly into jaw bone, our maxilla and mandible. Nerves communicate with our chewing muscles to bring our upper and lower teeth together to cut and grind food. This movement is possible because the mandible is essentially a freely floating bone in our skull. It is connected to the rest of our skull through a specialized joint called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ is one of the most complex joints in the human body. Most joints can only move in a single plane, the TMJ can move in multiple planes, allowing muscles to move the mandible forwards, backwards, up, down, and side to side. Ligaments in the TMJ are like guard rails, guiding mandibular movements and preventing joint dislocation due to excessive movements in any one direction.
All these different body parts work together to make chewing possible. Any change or disruption to any of these integral parts can affect one’s ability to chew and eat food. Dental treatments and dental conditions can often be the source of a person’s eating difficulties. Easy-To-Chew recipes can be instrumental in making mealtimes enjoyable for those whose normal eating abilities have been affected by dental treatments and dental conditions.
The Following Dental Situations Often Lead To Eating Difficulties :
Dentures are artificial tooth replacements for people missing some, or all of their teeth. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, “more than 36 million Americans do not have any teeth, and 120 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth”. 90 percent of people with no teeth have dentures.
Eating with dentures is kind of like walking with a prosthetic leg, with practice it can partially restore function but only with patience and practice. Not all foods can be eaten with dentures; fresh fruits and vegetables and tough meats are particularly difficult to chew with dentures. One study showed that denture wearers were at greater risk of malnutrition than people who still have their teeth. Many denture patients complain that eating has become more of a chore than something they enjoy doing.
Here are three tips for learning to eat with denture:
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.
- 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.
- Use Blenders, Food Processors, and Crock-Pots to make food easier to eat
- You can’t bite as hard, or chew as efficiently with dentures. Softer foods will be easier to manage. Yogurt gets old over time. You can increase the variety of foods you can eat by using blenders and food processors to break down foods into easier to manage pieces. 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.
If you are having difficulties with your denture, talk with your dentist. A dentist can ensure that your dentures are properly fitting.
Some Tips For Preparing Meals For Those With Chewing Difficulties Related To Dentistry:
- We chew food to make it small enough to swallow and digest. Dental problems can make it 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 have difficulty chewing. There is no easier way to mince, chop, blend, puree, or grind up food.
- Steaming, boiling, grilling, baking, and using the all powerful crockpot, 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.
- Home cooked meals taste better.
- Cook three meals a day with healthy snacks in between meals.
- At each meal, half your plate should be fruits and vegetables
- Everyone’s eating situation is unique. Try to make sure that each meal is the proper texture/consistency for their unique situation.
Easy-To-Chew is a food blog created by a dentist, a public health professional, and a registered dietitian. Their mission? To cook up delicious recipes dedicated to those who are in need of foods which are easy to chew, easy to swallow, and easy to love!
Some More Easy To Chew Recipes
Helpful Cooking Appliances When Cooking For Those With Chewing Difficulties
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!
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.
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.