Are Holiday Foods Dangerous for Your Dentures? Let's Find Out...
The holidays can be a very difficult time for a new denture wearer. At any other time of year, it’s perfectly acceptable to turn down problematic food and opt for more chewable and digestible alternatives. But when the family is sitting around the dinner table handing out delicious food and beaming expectantly, it’s hard to say no.
The bad news is that most holidays are a minefield of challenging foods that could dislodge or damage your dentures. The good news is that knowing where the mines are will allow you to tread more carefully.
With that said, here are the most problematic foodstuffs for all major food-related holidays.
Halloween Foods to Avoid as a Denture Wearer
Halloween is a dentist’s nightmare—or dream, depending on how you look at it. Americans buy 90 million pounds of candy during the week leading up to Halloween and the average child consumes up to 7,000 calories of the sweet stuff. It’s the one day when parents stop the mantas of, “Eat your greens first” and “only one” and just let their kids run riot.
But it’s not just kids that indulge. If you have children or grandchildren, there’s a good chance that you will be indulging in candy as well.
To keep your dentures in tip-top shape during Halloween, keep an eye out for the following foodstuffs.
A popular treat of yesteryear and one that many kids still enjoy, candy apples are sweet, salty, crunchy, and juicy. They’re also probably the worst thing for your teeth and dentures. In fact, if someone was to design the absolute worst thing for your dentures, candy apples would rank pretty highly.
Firstly, candy apples are occasionally coated with chopped peanuts. They are small, hard, and have a habit of getting stuck in the teeth and mechanisms of your dentures. Once there, they can wedge in place and become a haven for bacteria, with all that sticky caramel causing havoc for your oral health.
Once you make it past the nuts, you have the sticky, crunchy caramel coating. That coating has destroyed millions of teeth over the years and trying to wrap your dentures around them is just asking for trouble. It’ll pull, break, chip, and leave a sticky mess in its wake.
Once you make it past the stickiness and the sweetness, you have the apple itself. Apples are actually really good for your dental health. The fibrous fruit creates a natural brushing effect while the juice helps with hydration and can combat dry mouth.
When you have dentures, however, apples are one of the worst things that you can eat!
Popcorn and Nuts
It’s not just peanuts that can cause problems. Nuts in general are best avoided when you wear dentures. They are small and tough. Chewing them is hard on your fake teeth and once you mash them into little pieces, they can wash around your mouth and become trapped.
Several studies have shown that people who eat a handful of nuts a day are more likely to lose weight than those who don’t. Researchers even found the same results when the daily calorie consumption of both groups (those eating nuts and those not eating nuts) was the same. The reason is not that nuts have some magical weight-loss powers (although they are satiating) but that a percentage of the calories weren’t being digested.
In other words, when you chew nuts, many of those little bits go straight through your digestive tract and come out the other side completely undigested. It’s proof of just how tough this foodstuff is, and if your digestive system can’t handle them, what chance do your dentures have?
Of course, nuts are good for you and you should still try to consume them in more digestible forms, but when they’re coated in caramel/chocolate or stuffed into a candy bar, it’s just a disaster waiting to happen.
Popcorn is a little more manageable, but it’s also a nuisance to chew. The problem with popcorn is that the kernel skins lodge between your teeth and inside the mechanisms of your dentures. They always manage to find a way into the gaps and can become hard to remove. What’s more, if you’re happily chomping down on a handful of popcorn and suddenly encounter an unpopped kernel, you may chip a tooth.
Unpopped kernels can spell disaster even for individuals with real and healthy teeth, and as a denture wearer, you’re much more exposed to the harm that they can cause.
As with nuts, eating popcorn that is covered in caramel, butter, or any other fatty and sticky substance will just make them even more dangerous.
Sticky and Hard Candy
Unfortunately, nuts and candy apples aren’t the only candy that you need to avoid as a denture wearer. Anything that is very sticky, hard, or crunchy can cause you serious problems.
There are several problems with foods of this nature. Firstly, and as noted above, the little bits can break off and get stuck in the mechanisms and the teeth. It’s not a huge issue and is a minor irritation at best, but it means you’ll need to rinse your dentures after eating and pay more attention when performing your nightly clean.
Secondly, they can create a harmful environment in your mouth and lead to increased levels of bacteria. Just because you don’t have real teeth and cavities to worry about doesn’t mean you‘ve escaped all harm. You still have gums, they can still become infected, and gum disease is a very serious problem for everyone.
Finally, hard candies place a great deal of stress on your dentures, and it’s often focused on a single point, such as one or two teeth. Your dentures aren’t as strong as tooth enamel and they can’t take as much force. Even if you survive one crunch or two, every time you bite into a hard candy you’re jeopardizing and potentially weakening them.
Should You Avoid Candy Altogether?
Not all sweet stuff is bad. Generally, if you are sucking and not chewing, you should be okay. And even chewing can be fine, if you stick with foods that aren’t too tough or sticky, such as Sour Patch Kids as opposed to candied nuts.
Chocolate should be okay as well, although it’s best if it hasn’t been sitting in the refrigerator for several hours, otherwise, it could be hard enough to harm your dentures.
Lollipops are okay, as well, but they can also be one of the worst things you can eat. A Tootsie Pop is a great example. You’re not going to break your teeth by sucking and while it is high in sugar, it’s okay as an occasional treat. However, eventually, you’re going to feel the urge to bite, and that’s when the problem starts. If you refrain from biting and make it through to the chewy center, it’s time to throw it away or take things very carefully because those Tootsie Rolls are not made for denture wearers!
In all cases, if you’re eating candy with your dentures in, you should wash them thoroughly afterward. Make sure all of the little detritus is removed from your mouth and your dentures, lest it continue to cause problems long after you’ve swallowed your last sugary treat.
Thanksgiving Foods to Avoid as a Denture Wearer
Thanksgiving is a little more wholesome and family-focused than Halloween. The sugary treats take a backseat, and the starchy, fatty, protein-rich foods take center stage. It’s the perfect time to enjoy a big meal with the whole family and there are many denture-friendly foods to enjoy, but there are also a few ones to watch out for:
Meat is one of the biggest challenges for denture wearers. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you can skip right over this and be thankful that you don’t have to worry about this dilemma. If not, you’ll need to look for soft and succulent cuts of meat, as opposed to tough and chewy ones.
Turkey can be particularly problematic because it’s rarely cooked right. It’s a pretty divisive food, because while everyone is happy to see it come out of the oven, their first thought upon taking the initial bite is, “We should have gone for the chicken instead”.
If the meat is tough, you may want to give it a miss. On the plus side, you can use your dentures as an excuse to skip the tough meat and feast on the decadent side dishes instead!
If you have your heart set on some roasted meats for your Thanksgiving dinner, try slow-cooked meats inside. As long as it’s soft and doesn’t require a lot of chewing, it should be fine. This is true for all meats and not just turkey.
Although it doesn’t always make an appearance at the Thanksgiving dinner table, it’s usually enjoyed around this time and make be served on the cob with lashings of butter.
If you have ever eaten corn on the cob with real teeth, then you’ll understand what the issue is here. It can be quite tough and troublesome and even though the corn itself isn’t too hard, it places a great deal of strain on your dentures.
The main issue is that it’s eaten with your front teeth, which are thinner and more vulnerable. You may find yourself gnawing into it like a rabbit, which means those front two teeth are doing all of the work and a lot of pressure is being applied to them.
Raw Fruit and Vegetables
A good Thanksgiving feast should always include plenty of root vegetables. It’s the season, after all. As a denture wearer, you can rejoice in the fact that most of these vegetables are mushed into purees and other soft dishes, including pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes. Both of these are perfectly fine and can be enjoyed in copious quantities. Your waistline might not forgive you, but your dentures won’t mind.
However, not all root veg is as forgiving and if there are any raw carrots hanging around, you should give them a wide berth. They are healthy, sure, but they are also very tough. The same applies to all other hard vegetables and fruits—anything that is served raw and has a lot of bite to it.
We’ve already discussed apples, which are fine in an apple pie but challenging when eaten raw, but you may have similar issues with pears, nectarines, peaches, and plums.
What’s the Best Thanksgiving Dinner for Denture Wearers?
As you can see, there aren’t many foods that you need to avoid on the Thanksgiving dinner table. In fact, with the exception of tough meats, you can have your pick of the best foods on the table, including bread, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, and pumpkin pie.
It’s all of the good stuff! Sure, you may have to snub the corn on the cob, blackball the carrots, and kick the apples to the curb, but it’s fair to say that these omissions are not going to ruin your family dinner.
Christmas Foods to Avoid as a Denture Wearer
Christmas is the season of excess. It’s the time that we all drink more than we should, eat more than we thought possible, and spend 2 weeks lost in a time warp fueled by TV reruns and occasional visits from family and friends. It’s a great time to explore your gluttonous side but it’s also a very dangerous time for denture wearers.
Not only are there many different foods to avoid and mealtimes to carefully navigate, but if you chip or crack your dentures, it could be many weeks before you get an appointment. To avoid a seasonal disaster of epic proportions, be careful around the following Christmas foods.
Ham and Beef
Most American families eat turkey for Christmas dinner, but an increasing number are opting for ham, beef, and other meats. Not only does it make for a nice change, especially when you had a big turkey feast several weeks before, but it’s also more traditional in certain parts of the world.
In fact, many American holiday food traditions come from the United Kingdom, and while some opt for the turkey that became iconic thanks to Charles Dickens and the Victorians, others choose roast beef or Christmas ham, which was more common back in the Middle Ages.
These meats, like turkey, are very easy to get wrong, and when you do, they become even tougher and more difficult to navigate. You could find yourself chewing for several minutes before you choke the meat down, and that places a lot of stress on your dentures.
One of the problems with tough meats is that we tend to subconsciously chew on one side of our mouths. It’s fine if you have real teeth, but with dentures, it can create an imbalance and gradually loosen them. You may also wear the dentures down on one side and could create some irritation.
If you find yourself facing a plate of tough meat and you are too polite to refuse it, try to chew slowly and make sure you move it around your mouth, chewing equally on both sides.
The best thing to do, however, is to look for tender cuts of meat or ones that have been slow-roasted. If the meat is ready to fall off the bone, then it should be easy to chew and digest as well.
We have some good news for you—you have an excuse not to eat fruitcake! Johnny Carson once said that there was only one fruitcake in the world, and people keep sending it to each other every year. The fruity treat has become an annual joke in many households, but it’s still produced by the millions, it’s still eaten, and all jokes aside, there are clearly lots of Americans who enjoy it.
Furthermore, if you buy a high-quality fruitcake or make one yourself, it’s actually a nice treat. Sure, it seems like an odd choice following a heavy meal or meat and starch, but if you wait a few hours, add a dollop of cream and a glass of brandy, it’s not that bad!
For the most part, fruitcake is soft enough to be enjoyed without issue and shouldn’t give your dentures too much trouble. If you are making it yourself, be sure to chop the nuts very fine and used dried fruits as opposed to candied/sugared ones.
If you’re eating a mass-produced one, not only will it lack the flavor and moistness, but it’ll likely be filled with sticky candied fruits and hard nuts. It’s like eating a handful of caramel popcorn and never knowing when (or if) you’re going to chomp down on a tough kernel and chip one of your teeth.
On the plus side, if you find yourself with a mass-produced fruitcake that you can’t eat, you can always just re-gift it and keep the chain going!