Just because you have lost your teeth and have had difficulty applying dentures, or haven’t had dental implants, doesn’t mean the smell of a home-cooked meal no longer makes your mouth water. The aroma of food still makes it tempting to try and eat without teeth. Who knows, you might even become good at it with practice.
However, eating without teeth or dentures can be dangerous to the mouth – and the rest of your body. Before you or someone you know has their next meal without teeth, consider the risks associated with “gumming-down” food.
Gum and Jaw Issues
When you try to chew without teeth, your gums and jaws have to work even harder to ensure that food is chewed enough to swallow.
The bite force of natural teeth is around 200-250 pounds of force, while the force of dentures is about 50 pounds. This means dentures are much less powerful than original teeth, but this is definitely a case where something is better than nothing. Without teeth, dentures, or dental implants, your gums don’t stand much of a chance in the long-term.
Over time, your teeth and gums will become sore and irritated from having to work extra hard (not to mention your tongue as well!) to properly process food. Even softer foods that do not appear to require a lot of chewing will cause this issue over time. This can lead to more serious problems like TMJ and infected gums.
What’s more, the jawbone undergoes constant flux and changes in response to pressure placed on it from teeth, dentures or implants. Without this pressure, skeletal muscle becomes weakened over time, making the bone more prone to fractures.
Although there are a lot of recipes out there for smoothies, purees, and other foods that claim to be safe to eat without teeth, this diet is only intended to be followed for short periods of time – such as the period between when natural teeth are extracted and when dentures/implanted are ready.
Digestion is a complex, multi-organ process where all of the pieces must fall into place for it to work as planned. The entire process begins in the mouth, and when food is not well chewed and the food fragments are too big to be properly broken down, incomplete digestion occurs.
Not only will nutrients not be nearly as effectively extracted from the food, but undigested food also becomes fodder for bacteria in the colon. This can lead to bacterial growth, flatulence, and other symptoms of indigestion.
Eating a diet composed of foods that have already been processed enough to not require chewing is not much better as your body does not have the opportunity to absorb nutrients through the chewing process. Hence why it is the temporary fix for that in between state aforementioned!
Chewing is also directly connected with the movement of food through your digestive tract, and with the movement of food from your stomach to your small intestine. Saliva from the chewing process helps relax the small muscle known as the pylorus at the lower end of the stomach – enough to allow food to pass into the small intestine and through your digestive tract.
The process of chewing also signals the rest of the gastrointestinal system that the digestive process can begin. It stimulates the taste receptors in the mouth, which relay messages to the stomach to start producing acid to aid with digestion once food reaches it. It also signals the pancreas to begin producing enzymes that are passed into the small intestine to aid with digestion there.
What Can You Do?
Teeth play an important role in the way your body breaks down food to absorb nutrients. If you or someone you know is having issues with gum sensitivity, your dentures, or dental implants, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will be able to help make your dentures easier to apply, correctly install dental implants, and make recommendations/provide solutions for curing sensitive gums. Call Westermeier Martin Dental Care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-508-4547!