Did you know that 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth? And over 36 million Americans do not have any teeth at all.
If you are one of these edentulous individuals, you’re in good company. Depending on your situation, dentures could have a positive impact on you and your lifestyle.
However, you may have heard of dentures causing malnutrition, and especially malnutrition in the elderly. Can using dentures be harmful to your dietary health?
Here, we break down the science and provide some tips on how to avoid malnutrition.
Do Dentures Cause Malnutrition?
The short answer: it depends.
The long answer: studies have shown an association between denture wearing and malnutrition, especially among elderly individuals. However, the dentures themselves don’t cause malnutrition. It’s the ways in which dentures may alter your eating habits that could cause malnutrition in the long run.
Dentures are more fragile than natural teeth. Since they are expensive and difficult to replace, many people will change their eating habits to preserve their dentures. This includes avoiding certain tough and crunchy foods, such as vegetables, meats, and nuts.
Unfortunately, these foods provide essential vitamins and nutrients for a well-balanced diet. Completely eliminating these foods will cause malnutrition over time.
Even if you do continue to eat these foods, ill-fitting dentures can decrease the efficacy of chewing, leading to poorer digestion and poorer absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Some people who use dentures even take them out while eating to prevent irritation and the development of sores. However, this will also lead to less effective chewing.
What to Do About It
The first thing to do is make sure that you’re wearing the appropriate size and style of dentures. This will make them comfortable for long-term wear and use, and it will increase your ability to bite and chew all kinds of foods. If you currently have loose dentures, an oral surgeon can help you get refitted for new ones.
You may also benefit from nutrition counseling or working with a dietitian.
They’ll help you figure out the kinds of foods that work best for your tastes and lifestyle while still getting all the nutrients you need. They’ll give you ideas on food alternatives, such as different forms of protein, as well as different ways of preparing your food, like steaming or grilling your vegetables instead of eating them raw. They’ll also monitor your nutrient intake over time and help you make any necessary adjustments.
Dentures and Malnutrition: Talk to Your Doctor
The answer to the question, “Can dentures cause malnutrition?” is a complicated one. While they can impact your dietary habits to the point of causing malnutrition, establishing frequent communication with your healthcare professionals can help you avoid this issue.
Ready to learn more? Contact us today to learn more about the services we provide and our appointment availability. We can’t wait to hear from you!