How To Protect Your Prosthesis When You Eat and Drink


Aesthetically speaking, dentures are a replacement for real teeth. They’re designed to look as close to the real thing as possible and it’s often hard to tell a fake set from a real set. 

However, the same can’t be said for practicality. While dentures are far from fragile and are built to last, they’re not as resilient as real teeth and if you’ve just made the switch to a full set of dentures, you may need to adapt your diet. 

The following foods and drinks should be avoided, consumed in moderation, or approached with a degree of caution.

Coffee

Approximately two-thirds of adult Americans consume coffee on a regular basis. It’s the tonic they need to get through the morning and prepare them for a day of work or chores. But that bitter black pick-me-up can have a seriously detrimental effect on your dental health, and that’s true whether you have real teeth or dentures.

Coffee is loaded with tannins. These bitter compounds are abundant in nature and provide the astringency and bitterness associated with many seeds, barks, and fruits.

Tannins make it easier for color pigments to bind to your teeth, thus staining your enamel. And that’s not all. Coffee is also highly acidic, which can damage teeth and dentures, and then you have the caffeine, which is often just as harmful.

Caffeine dries you out and can give you a dry mouth, and this is one of the biggest issues for denture wearers.

Saliva plays an important role in helping your dentures to stay in place. It creates a suction effect, and the less saliva you have, the less effective it will be. You may find that your dentures slip and move around, and this could lead to gum irritation.

Dry mouth is a big problem for most denture wearers. It becomes increasingly common with age, as the body becomes less efficient at producing saliva. Denture wearers are also more likely to be over the age of 60, and individuals in this age group are more likely to suffer from health conditions and to take medications that increase the risk of dry mouth.

For instance, certain blood pressure medications and opioid painkillers are known to trigger dry mouth in the majority of users. If you add regular coffee consumption to the mix, you’re just compounding the issue.

If you need your fix of caffeine and want to reduce the risk, keep the following in mind:

  • Drink Tea: The caffeine content of tea is enough to perk you up without causing severe dry mouth, but it is heavy on the tannins.
  • Drink Water: The occasional drink of water between sips of coffee will help to wash away harmful tannins and keep your mouth hydrated. You should also drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Use a Straw: While it won’t do much for your dry mouth, a straw will ensure that the coffee bypasses your teeth.

Some believe that drinking coffee with milk will reduce the damage and others insist that skipping sugar will have the same benefits, but unfortunately for people who enjoy their coffee black and bitter, that’s just not the case.

It’s true that sugar promotes bacteria growth and that this bacteria creates harmful acids. Any time you can reduce your sugar consumption, it’s generally a good thing for your oral health and your overall health. But it won’t do much for the tannins or acidity and a splash of milk won’t do anything at all.

The milk whitens the coffee, but it doesn’t remove the harmful ingredients. It might look lighter and more denture-friendly, but the tannins are still there. 

Nuts and Nut Butters

Nuts can form an essential part of any healthy diet. They often get a bad press as they are very high in calories, with just two handfuls of cashews containing approximately the same calories as a McDonald’s cheeseburger. 

But unlike that burger, which is high in saturated fat and salt, nuts are loaded with quality protein and healthy fats. The older you get, the more essential it becomes to add these nutritious little foods to your diet.

The problem is, nuts are also problematic for denture wearers. They are small and tough and can potentially dislodge the dentures. They also break down into many small and hard pieces and these can become problematic very quickly.

As some experts have noted, it’s also very important to chew on both sides of your mouth, but most people tend to begin on one side and then move to the other after a while. As nuts are eaten in small quantities, it means they are often chewed on just one side of the mouth, creating an imbalance.

If you’re thinking that you can still get your fix of nutritional goodness from nut butters, think again, as they’re often just as bad.

Nut butters are incredibly sticky and can be difficult to remove from dentures. Powerful and natural cleaning agents like XODENT will lend a helping hand and get rid of that viscous paste, but if you want to prolong the life of your dentures and avoid any issues, it’s best to limit your consumption of nut butters.

If you’re worried about missing out on those healthy fats and quality proteins, swap nuts and nut butters for high-protein snacks like hummus, which is also processed into a paste but is much less viscous. Hummus is made from a blend of olive oil, chickpeas, and tahini, and is full of healthy protein and fat.

Avocados, oily fish, uncooked olive oil, and olives are also great sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.

Seeds

Seeds, like nuts, are full of healthy fats and can also aid with digestion, providing some much-needed fiber to your diet. But they have a tendency to get stuck between your teeth and cause damage to your dentures. 

Seeds and their hard skins can become trapped in-between your dentures and may be hard to remove. The more time they spend in your mouth, the more damage they will do. The act of chopping down on hard seeds may also dislodge your dentures and cause irritation.

This is true for most seeds, but some are worse than others. Poppy seeds are particularly challenging for denture wearers. These little black seeds are like grains of sand after a trip to the beach—they get stuck in all kinds of gaps and crevices and you’re still finding them hours later!

If you’re partial to the occasional poppy seed bagel or bun, it might be time to rethink your preferred snack. While there is no harm in chowing down on the odd bagel, especially if the poppy seeds are kept to a light scattering, it’s not something you should eat on a regular basis.

Steak and Other Tough Meats

Steak is the stereotypical problematic food for denture wearers. It is tough, chewy, and has a tendency to pull the dentures out of place and cause all kinds of problems for the wearer.

You may have more luck if you prefer your steak rare, as softer and juicier meat is better, but if you tend to opt for well-done then you’re asking a lot from your dentures.

Chewing on tough meat and dislodge the dentures and the constant movement may cause pain and irritation. You won’t necessarily destroy your dentures with the occasional steak, but you’ll certainly have a hard time getting through the meal and if you eat steak on a regular basis, those problems may persist and worsen.

But don’t worry, as that doesn’t mean you need to abstain entirely from red meat. Instead, cook your steak on the rarer side and make sure you chop it up thoroughly before eating. There will still be a lot of chewing, but it’s much more denture-friendly than a big chunk of tough steak.

Chewy and Sticky Candy

Peanut brittle, taffy, caramels—these sugary treats are tasty but they’re also terrible for your dentures. They have a way of getting stuck between the gaps, just like they do with real teeth. They may also dislodge your dentures, and if there are any hard bits of nut, they may chip or crack your teeth.  

Not all candy is bad for you, though. In fact, chewing gum is a great way of stimulating saliva production and can be a big help if you suffer from dry mouth.

Chewing gum also helps to remove any stray bits of food that have become trapped in your mouth, as the constant chewing action helps to shake everything out of its place.

Many denture wearers avoid chewing gum, assuming that it will pull and dislodge their dentures, but gum isn’t as sticky or damaging as caramel.

In fact, gums like Biotene and Freedent are specifically designed with denture wearers in mind. Just make sure you choose gum that contains natural colors and is sugar-free.

Popcorn

Not only is popcorn a delicious snack when you’re at the cinema or enjoying some movies at home, but it’s also a savory and sweet low-calorie treat. The bad news is that it has a way of getting stuck between your teeth and causing an array of problems, and it’s worse for denture wearers.

Of course, many different foods can get stuck between your teeth, including pith from an orange or chunks of meat from a stick of jerky. Popcorn is unusual in that the bits that get stuck are hard, small, and sharp. They make their presence known and can cause a great deal of irritation.

If you’re not sieving out the un-popped kernels, you also run the risk of chipping or cracking your dentures. Those solid little kernels place a great deal of stress on your dentures, much more so than larger foodstuffs as the force is concentrated on a specific area. 

It takes just one forceful bite for those fake teeth to chip or crack, and if you’re snacking mindlessly while watching a film, the risk of such an injury increases substantially.

Corn

You can’t beat a head of grilled corn dabbed with some fresh butter. It’s a treat that’s somewhat healthy (and without the butter, would be very healthy) but leaves its mark long after you’ve chewed the lost kernel, with little pieces of corn remaining wedged in your teeth for the entire day.

It should go without saying that this classic American treat is not good for your dentures. It places a great deal of stress on your front teeth and this causes your dentures to move around and even fall out. You’ll also get little bits of corn trapped between teeth and under dentures, creating all kinds of issues.

It’s not just corn, either. Corn on the cob is certainly one of the most problematic vegetables, but anything hard, tough, and fibrous can cause similar issues.

Celery, carrots, parsnips, and radishes have the same effect and are best avoided if you want to prolong the life of your dentures.

These vegetables are good sources of vitamin C and potassium, as well as fiber, but you can find these nutrients in many other vegetables, including ones that are significantly more denture-friendly.

Broccoli, collard greens, kale, and Brussel sprouts are also good sources of vitamin C and are also packed with fiber. In fact, vegetables in the brassica family, including cabbage, kale, and broccoli, are some of the healthiest foods in the world. 

They are loaded with potassium, vitamin C, calcium, and B vitamins, as well as surprising levels of protein, and they’re also easy to enjoy even if you wear dentures!

Apples

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but your dentist will be beating down your door if you’re a denture wearer. These tough fruits are loaded with antioxidants and fiber. They also have very high water content and it’s for these reasons that the old, “apple a day adage” exists. 

Generally, you should look to consume as many fruits like this as you can, but when you wear dentures, that tough flesh could cause problems, pulling out your dentures and making light work of even the strongest adhesive.

The main problem with apples is that the pressure is applied on your front teeth and when this happens, the dentures are more likely to dislodge or be removed entirely. 

After all, they’re not glued in place. They’re not secured to your mouth with a lock and key. They are designed to be removed with a little force and apples supply that force, removing your dentures long before the day is over and you’re ready to pop them in your XODENT Denture Bath.

In fact, as noted in our guide on Common Fixes for Denture Problems, many denture users resort to chomping down on apples when their dentures are stuck and they can’t remove them.

Just because you can’t (or shouldn’t) eat whole raw apples doesn’t mean you should avoid fruits altogether. You can still eat apples, just make sure you chop them into small pieces and chew with your back teeth. You can also simply puree them or cook them.

You’ll get many of the same benefits with other fruits, some of which can be enjoyed whole and raw. Bananas, for instance, are a great source of fiber and potassium while berries will provide you with an abundance of nutrients. 

A cup of blueberries contains around the same calories and fiber as a single apple while a kiwi contains half the calories and approximately 8x more vitamin C.

A smoothie will also provide you with a big boost of healthy nutrients without hurting your dentures. However, it’s important not to consume large quantities of smoothies or fruit juice, and to stick with small and occasional glasses.

Add a variety of soft whole fruits to your diet and you will keep both the doctor and the dentist away!

Eat Well, Clean Often

Dentures are strong, resilient, and more than capable of surviving an attack from steak, seeds, and peanut butter. You’re not going to destroy those $3,000 dentures from eating a single seed or chomping down on an errant kernel, but you might, and that’s more than enough reason to stay clear of these foods.

After all, if you’ve just dropped a month’s paycheck on a set of false teeth, you’ll want to do what you can to protect them, and that means reducing your risk as much as possible.

So, while it’s not going to kill you to have a PB & J sandwich, eat a little fillet steak, or enjoy a bag of popcorn, if you’re doing these things on a regular basis you may reduce the lifespan of your dentures.

To keep them strong and intact for many years to come, limit your consumption of the foods above and make sure you clean your dentures every night. 

Grab yourself an XODENT kit for effective and thorough cleaning and to ensure any errant pieces of seed, nut, or popcorn are washed away and your dentures are fresh, clean, and ready for the next day.

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