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At a dinner party, a woman across the table from a man asks him some frequently asked questions about eating with dentures after recently getting some herself.

Frequently Asked Questions about Eating with Dentures

4 minutes to read

Posted: Jul 16, 2021

Eating with dentures can be challenging. Adjusting to the feeling of chewing with dentures takes time, as does gaining the confidence that the seal will be airtight and that food particles will not get lodged inside. Have a question? Fixodent® denture adhesive and the American College of Prosthodontists have answers. 

My father, 93, got new dentures a year ago. Despite a few fittings, he complains that they aren't comfortable. Due to complications appearing during the recovery of a fractured hip (he is in skilled nursing now), he's lost 15 to 18 pounds. Recently, he is not able to open his mouth and say "Ah," as it were. There's barely room to get a fork between his teeth. A dentist says his dentures are fine and that there are no jaw problems. What could be going on? 

Answer: Several possible reasons may exist for the problems you are reporting. The dentures may actually be too large and have left inadequate space between the upper and lower jaw, therefore resulting in the inability to allow a fork in between the upper and lower dentures. Another reason may simply be that at 93 years old, it could be difficult for your father to adjust to the shape and size of the new dentures, even if they are "fine" as the dentist reports. The fact that he has lost 15 to 18 pounds and is in a skilled nursing facility after a hip fracture raises some serious concerns. If the skilled nursing facility allows for a prosthodontist to visit residents, it may be of value for you to try to have one evaluate your father. A prosthodontist is a dentist with three additional years of training in the care and maintenance of dentures. To locate a prosthodontist near you, visit www.gotoapro.org. 

Response provided by the American College of Prosthodontists. 

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I can't stop gagging. I can't drink anything, I can’t take pills, and I can’t eat. The dentist said to leave the dentures in to prevent swelling, but when can I safely take them out? The dentist simply pulled my teeth, put the dentures in, and gave me a box of Fixodent. Nothing else. What can I do so I can start eating? 

Answer: New denture wearers often can require an amount of time to become accustomed to the feeling of an upper denture. In general, gagging can be occurring for a few reasons. First, loose dentures can move around and touch the tongue or other parts of the throat. Sometimes, the dentures may be slightly too big, causing them to contact the throat more than they should. In these cases, they should be adjusted, relined, or even remade. For some people, wearing dentures can be difficult if they have not worn a previous set. In these cases, the use of denture adhesive may be of some help. In other cases, the lack of jawbone may make it difficult to wear dentures and dental implants can be of help. You should return to your dentist to see if he or she can identify the cause, and correct it. If not, you should consult a prosthodontist near you. Prosthodontists are dental specialists with three additional years of training beyond dental school focused on denture care and maintenance. To find a prosthodontist near you visit, www.gotoapro.org

Response provided by the American College of Prosthodontists. 

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I got my first set of upper dentures a month and a half ago. Since then, I have had no desire to eat because it hurts to chew and nothing tastes good. I just tried to eat a piece of bacon and couldn't chew it. Anything hard or tough or that the teeth have to tear does not work. Dentures ruined food and eating. Is this going to improve? I keep going back to the dentist to have them grind pieces off and it helps some, but my mouth is still sore. 

Answer: When you’re first fitted for new dentures, it’s normal to experience minor irritation, which should fade as your mouth becomes accustomed to them. The period of pain varies. If you’ve previously worn dentures and now have a new set, it may take longer. Similarly, if you had some natural teeth present that were removed at the time the new dentures, the areas where the extractions were performed may be painful or uncomfortable for up to several weeks after the removal of the teeth. When you first get your dentures, focus on eating foods that are soft and don’t require much chewing, such as scrambled eggs, baked potatoes, and pasta. As you become adjusted to the dentures, and you learn how to adjust your tongue to help hold the denture in place, add some other foods. Just remember to let your knife and fork start the chewing process for you by cutting your food into small bites. Then chew on both sides of your mouth using the back teeth only. A small amount of denture adhesive may help hold your dentures in place, or you may want to consider dental implants for ultimate security. Regular visits to your dentist or prosthodontist to adjust the dentures as you go through the normal healing process are recommended. To locate a prosthodontist near you, visit www.gotoapro.org

Response provided by the American College of Prosthodontists. 

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What should I avoid eating now that I have dentures? All of my upper teeth were extracted a week ago because of severe gum problems, and the lowers will come out in two months. I now have a full denture on the top, and I find it quite difficult (painful) to eat pizza, bacon, and other things that I like without swallowing pieces whole. Do I have to spend the rest of my life eating soft foods? 

Answer: If you have worn an upper denture for a while, you have probably learned that it is hard to bite into foods without making the denture come loose—foods such as sandwiches, raw vegetables, a whole apple, etc. A lower denture only adds to the problems because it tends to come loose any time you move your tongue. But over time you may learn some tricks that make eating your favorite foods easier. When you first get your dentures, focus on eating foods that are soft and don’t require much chewing, such as scrambled eggs, baked potatoes, and pasta. As you become adjusted to the dentures, and you learn how to adjust your tongue to help hold the denture in place, add some other foods. Just remember to let your knife and fork start the chewing process for you by cutting your food into small bites. Then chew on both sides of your mouth using the back teeth only. A small amount of denture adhesive may help hold your dentures in place, or you may want to consider dental implants for ultimate security. 

Response provided by the American College of Prosthodontists. 

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How can a denture wearer eat raw vegetables and nuts? Every social event has veggie trays and I love them. Is there any way to make my dentures more comfortable while enjoying these foods? 

Answer: Biting raw vegetables is one of the most difficult challenges for a denture wearer. Biting on the front teeth of a denture, especially into something as hard as a raw carrot, can put so much pressure on the front that the back of both dentures comes loose and the dentures “float” in your mouth. Try eating raw vegetables cut into small pieces, and start with something a little easier to bite, such as squash. Then practice biting into the vegetable more on the side of your mouth, not directly on your front teeth. You even may consider asking for a knife when at a social event so you can cut the vegetables into smaller pieces, then chew on both sides of your mouth using the back teeth only. A small amount of denture adhesive may help hold your dentures in place, or you may want to consider dental implants for ultimate security. Nuts are easier to eat than raw vegetables because you don’t have to bite into the nut. Once again, you will need to chew on both sides of your mouth using the back teeth only. The problem with nuts is the small, irritating particles that might become stuck under you denture. If that happens, it can be very uncomfortable. So, you will need to find a graceful way to excuse yourself to remove and rinse your dentures. 

Response provided by the American College of Prosthodontists. 

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Eating with dentures in the first month can take a little getting used to. You may want to start with soft food as you get used to them. Find out more about what to eat in your first days with dentures.