The first patient I ever did a full mouth rehabilitation surprised me when I asked her what her first meal would be after completing dental implant treatment.
She replied that for more than 35 years she had been craving a salad simply because she missed the refreshing crispness of lettuce.
I was astounded and quickly realized how many foods were off limits due to her poorly fitting partial denture and failing bridges.
One of the primary objectives for successful dental treatment is to help you chew better and without pain, thus enabling you to eat more nutritious foods and improve overall health.
How Does Missing Teeth Impact Nutrition?
There is a wealth of research showing how nutrition affects overall health.
To live a healthy life, it is imperative to eat a diet composed primarily of meat, fish, poultry, and plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts.
When your oral health is compromised, it alters your food choices and negatively impacts food intake which can lead to other health issues.
Painful or loose teeth impede the ability to eat foods that are more fibrous, resulting in a soft food diet high in cholesterol and low in protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Malnutrition can lead to deficiencies in protein, vitamins such as B12 and minerals such as iron. For example, a diet low in iron can result in a swollen tongue, cracked lips, mouth ulcers, diarrhea and general weakness. A diet low in vitamin B12 can result in an inflamed mouth, burning tongue, and dry mouth thus altering taste sensation.
When you lose even just one tooth, it can cause an eventual collapse in bite which will affect your ability to chew efficiently. The teeth surrounding the lost tooth will begin to shift causing more food impaction and adversely affect the chewing force of those teeth. Studies show that the more teeth that are lost, the worse the malnutrition.
How Do Dentures Impact Eating & Nutrition?
Dentures increase the risk of malnutrition due to the inability to eat and chew food properly. Denture teeth are plastic, so they aren’t able to cut and tear up food as efficiently. Denture wearers frequently complain that the dentures move, so food gets stuck under the denture making eating not enjoyable.
Most studies show that wearing a partial denture can reduce your bite force by 15-20%, and wearing a full denture only gives you 20-25% of your original bite force. This means that even if you lose teeth and replace it with dentures, you will not be able to eat harder, chewier foods.
How Do Dental Implants Impact Eating & Nutrition?
Replacing your teeth with dental implants can improve the bite force remarkably because implants are integrated with your jawbone and help to improve your chewing muscles control. It also prevents the surrounding teeth from shifting significantly.
When you choose a qualified dentist for the procedure, they will walk you through the specific foods you will be able to eat again. While you’ll be excited to eat your favorite meals again, it will take a little time before you can start to eat hard, tough foods again.
Once you have fully healed from the dental implant procedure, you will have the ability to eat and enjoy the foods you love and you will be able to reintroduce more nutritious foods back into your diet.
Recognizing and replacing teeth with dental implants is imperative to being able to eat healthier and improve your quality of life.
The dentist consulted for this article was: Jasmine Sung, DDS, AFAAID of Houston Southwest Dental Implant Center in Houston, TX.
After completing her undergraduate studies at Wellesley College and receiving her D.D.S. from Baylor College of Dentistry, Dr. Jasmine Sung joined her father's practice in 2007. Following her father's footsteps, she has developed a keen interest in dental implants, cosmetic dentistry, and orthodontics. She has achieved many credentialing awards in General and Implant dentistry. With more than 1500 hours of continuing education, she strongly believes in keeping up to date to provide what is best for the patient.
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