Holiday Food Guide – Featuring a guest patient!

10 minute read

One of the more challenging parts of being a dentist who does dentures is my lack of personal experience living with them. I can ramble on and on about denture theory and about what makes clinical sense to me, but I find that whatever points I can make don’t have much substance. No experience behind them. So I’m always grateful when patients will help me understand what it’s like to actually wear dentures, and usually in awe of the power of their comments.

I really wanted to write a holiday food guide for my denture patients this year. I actually started the blog post. But after a paragraph or two it was clear to me that I would do my patients better by connecting them to one of my favorite denture patients and just get out of the way! So without anymore ramblings, let me introduce you to Mickey Jean.

My name is Mickey-Jean and I have worn traditional full dentures for two years, I did upgrade to the overdenture four months ago. I will be sharing my views, tips, and opinions about various denture related topics here on Dr. McKinlay’s Blog. 

Are you thinking the same thing I’m thinking? How in the world am I going to eat these foods without anyone finding out I have dentures from an all too public slip. From turkey to rolls to chocolate chess pie from corn on the cob to stuffing to spiral sliced ham, I am here to guide you through some of the challenges you may face from first hand experience.  Having survived my first Thanksgiving, family potlucks, and church gatherings I think I will have a lot to offer the new and moderately experienced denture wearing community.  I am going to rate each food on a scale of 1 to 5 based on my own opinions and (where needed) those of other new denture wearers.

Turkey Eatability = 3, moderate difficulty

Why? Turkey can have pieces of very chewy skin attached to the edges that you may not see. Dentures aren’t as sharp as real teeth and the skin’s rubbery texture makes it difficult to break down into small enough pieces to safely swallow.  Turkey can also be dry, because your gums are covered with your prosthesis, your sensitivity to food textures may also be altered. This can impact saliva production which could make it difficult to break the food down and thus swallow.  Suggestions? Take very small bites- no large than a quarter; look for similar textures to eat together; and don’t make your bite too “thick”

Ham Eatability= 3, moderate difficulty

Why? Just like turkey if you cut the bites too thick, it can make it difficult to swallow and not choke. That being said, if you haven’t really built up your ability to chew slightly tougher pieces, then you maybe should pass this year and toughen your gums more so that you don’t choke. If you can chew well, I say give it a try. Just avoid the outer tough glazed pieces so that you can chew it and not have to worry that you may not be able to chew it well enough or that it is too tough and will loosen your glue to where you can’t finish that delicious meal you’ve waited all year for. Suggestions? Take small bites. Make sure the pieces that you pick are relatively thin. Really just chew well.

Mashed Potatoes Eatability= 1 easiest 

Why? I don’t know about y’all but I ate mostly mashed potatoes in the early days. That being said, as long as the potatoes are full mashed, meaning no lumps, this should be your go-to. I would say though, make sure you don’t overfill your mouth. It can push the potatoes under the bottom teeth and break the seal you have with your glue. Suggestions? With this delicious side I say eat all you can or want. For once

forget your carb counter and just enjoy them.

Corn on the cob Eatability= 5 the toughest

Why? In some ways I think we are all afraid to tackle this one. I know for me before even getting dentures that I had to cut the corn off the cob or just bypass it all together. I think this was the most exciting thing for me to test out. It is possible. Don’t panic. With my traditional dentures I would bite more on the dominant side of my mouth to ensure that my teeth don’t pop out. Hince giving away that you are wearing dentures that you don’t want people to know. I know that saying “well just cut it off” is the logical answer, it’s not the way we envision eating it. With my overdenture however I can eat as many cobs as I want and they don’t budge. Suggestions? Make sure the corn has been cooked long enough that it’s soft.

Stuffing/bread Eatability= 2, fairly easy

Why? Bread and stuffing of all types can be a range of toughness. Bread can have a bad habit of sticking to your top plate and therefore make swallowing not the easiest thing you’ve done. I would say that rolls are better than just a sourdough type bread. The roll is likely soft on the inside which makes that much easier to chew. With stuffing (I don’t personally eat or like it) I would suggest making it with more liquid and that way as it cooks it doesn’t dry out and make the top pieces too dry. I think this along with your mashed potatoes should be fairly easy and enjoyable while not worrying about the plates shifting. Suggestions? If the stuffing is too dry, always go for the gravy!

Dessert Eatability= 2-4, depends on the dessert

Why? I gave the open numbers because depending on what your family does for dessert, it could change the difficulty. My family always had lemon and chocolate chess pie. With pie if you are unable to eat the crusts you can always eat the filling. I think the chocolate pie would definitely loosen any glue you have so make sure you have the best grip when choosing. Apple pie to me would be the toughest. You would have to chew them really well or make sure they are cooked really well. Most other pies I feel that you could just eat the filling as I said and be happy. It’s my favorite part of the meal. Suggestions? Dive in on your favorites, but beware of glue dissolving chocolates!

As I have learned in the time I have been in full dentures, every food and every meal has its challenges. Don’t be afraid to try new things and different textures. The reward is succeeding in enjoying that food you haven’t been able to eat or sweets that you quit eating for whatever the reason. For all of us this is a new adventure that is scary and at times embarrassing. Don’t be though. The hardest part was making the choice to change your life. I believe in you and know that you will have the best holidays this year with your new smile and new confidence. I hope this helps!!  Mickey-Jean

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