Take Back Control Of What You Eat

A recent Australian survey* conducted found that an average of 23% of people aged over 65 reported avoiding certain foods due to issues with their teeth. Whilst for some this may be a short-term issue linked to toothache, for others the problem may be longer term impacting their quality of life. So, what can you do?

Identify the problem

Your first point of call should always be to your dentist to identify any underlying issues that may be responsible for preventing you from eating comfortably. There are a number of reasons that may lead to avoidance of chewing and eating certain foods and drinks. These include:

  • Ill-fitting or loose dentures- causing rubbing and painful ulcers
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold food and drinks
  • Tooth decay, gum disease or missing teeth
  • Loose fillings or cracked teeth
  • Pain from the jaw joints

Modifying your diet and home care routine

In addition to seeking help from your dentist to address any underlying issues, you may also wish to make some amendments to your diet to manage any ongoing pain or sensitivity while eating. The first and most recommended option is to change your diet to include mostly soft foods.  Your dentist will also recommend that you eliminate sugary and acidic foods & drinks which can cause further damage to your teeth over time. Temporarily chewing on the opposite side of your mouth to the source of pain or discomfort can be helpful whilst you are having any corrective treatment from your dentists.  Avoiding extremes of hot and cold is also recommended as is careful brushing with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.

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If you simply can’t go without the flavours of your favourite hard food, try these tips to help you to continue enjoying the foods you love:

  • Cut food into smaller portions, this works especially well for apples
  • Cook food more thoroughly to soften it. Ideas such as cooking beef in a slow cooker instead of on the barbeque and eating steamed instead of raw vegetables should help
  • Puree or juice food so you can continue to enjoy the flavours you love without the pain to your teeth

Visit your dentist for regular check-ups to ensure you identify any issues early and help keep your teeth healthy.

*Older Australia at a glance. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 10 Sept, 2018

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