Do Dentures & Braces Affect People’s Attention To Nutrition?
Eating habits and food preferences indeed change with both dental prosthetics and braces; particularly during the transition period. It all feels so foreign, uncomfortable and unmanageable and Macca’s does not, so be mindful.
As a kid with metal braces, it’s easy to recall the initial thrum of feeling like apple skin was trapped between each tooth and each time they were adjusted. Discovering edges that weren’t there before, cheek tissue not knowing where to go. New denture wearers experience a weird one-sided numbness where the tongue can still feel but each new tooth doesn’t as they take sides with the roof of your mouth.
Oral terrain to get used to, new protocols to adhere to; new products with which to become familiar. And maybe a different looking person looking back from the looking glass…
For fluidity of expression and because it’s apt, we’ll accept for now the premise that braces, traditional or invisible are dentures for people with teeth. There. That was easy. One of the few adjustments in life without a level of pain. That place of acute awareness, before it slips into unconscious competence where we again find ourselves quite settled, in the now familiar: the tears of the first day of kindy, the awkwardness of adolescence, the first overwhelming days of university or a job or parenthood. The uncomfortability of discomfort.
Adjustment. It’s all about adjustment. A series of adjustments – much like any reputable invisible braces program. It’s physical, financial, and more often than not, emotional too.
Dreams about teeth are one of the most universal of themes, yet is rarely under empirical study. Whether about loose, rotting or missing teeth, these types of dreams are particularly enigmatic because they don’t fall under the rubric of “continuity hypothesis” – dreams representing current, salient waking-life experiences.
There are two hypotheses for the source of teeth dreams: as an incorporation of dental irritation; or the symbolic manifestation of psychological distress.
In 2018, 210 undergraduates took part in a study where dream themes, dental irritation, psychological distress, and sleep quality were assessed. Teeth dreams (TD) were indeed related to dental irritation – identified by having the sensation upon waking of tension in the jaws, gums or teeth; a physical manifestation that other dreams did not produce. Conversely, TD remained unrelated to psychological distress; dreams of falling or being smothered were. This is the disparity in TD; there is a small but significant relationship between psychological distress and dental irritation.
Seems a bit which-came-first, really. The chicken who didn’t cross the road to the dentist, or the egg breath that killed the chicken?
Maybe the most useful thing amid all this is to actually bring teeth dreams into the “continuity hypothesis” by making an appointment with your dentist when you have one. Like ‘sleeping on it’ beforehand. With the chemical language that goes on between mouth and brain, who’s to say you’re brain’s not sending basic signals to your conscious self that all is not necessarily well in your cake-hole? Stranger things have happened. Leaving dental appointments up to the gods is how most people ordinarily do it, so making one to make a dream come true (heh) can be the new rule of thumb.
There. That was easy too.
Certainly the rule of thumb for establishing new routines or accepting new sensations is 28 days – so let’s call it a month. If you’re a leading Australian telecommunications company, 28 days is a month so that 13 of them fit into a year. (Just sayin’. We’re all payin’…)
It’s within these first 30 days that the trouble can start if you don’t decide to heed the adage, “start the way you want it to finish”.
Comfort food is all well and good in those first few days of needing to soothe the mouth trauma (because there is that), and to basically not chew. Not much, anyway – no steak on the menu just yet. Convenience foods can become a bit too convenient at this point so be aware of that. They may not hurt going down, but they’ll bring you down. It’s not just your tender mouth you have to focus on; it’s the oral microbiome that’s crucial to your overall health. The system that’s already healing your mouth.
Maintaining wellbeing requires nurturing and enhancing the probiotic bacterial activity in your mouth which in turn affects your gut health, which we now know is the very place systemic disease begins. If you were unaware of that, welcome to a new perspective.
Chewing high-fibre vegetables assists good oral bacteria that influences gut bacteria, despite the differences. Your mouth is a unique microbial environment physiologically unlike your gut. Where the happiness between gob and gut begins is the improvement of blood vessels, nerves and salivary function that enhance chemical signaling to the brain that monitors and controls oral probiotic flora, lowers the levels of oral pathogens thereby alleviating protective response inflammation and the sexy environment that provides for on-going ill health.
So denture malnutrition prevention includes vegies with texture, the mechanics of chewing, and of course brushing your teeth. In situ or a glass. Either way, do it properly.
To keep you on your toes, US research suggests dentures have a potentially negative impact on nutrition; the first time nutritional biomarkers have been linked with dental records.
You’d have to hope yours was a hit.
With specific markers for malnutrition, researchers delved into more than 10,000 Indiana dental patient records. The study tests included though were not limited to, a complete blood count, a basic metabolic profile and lipid and thyroid panel tests. The team compared the lab results from two years prior, and two years after a study participant received their prosthetics.
Dentures proved a significant marker for nutritional decline; results unrecorded in those without dentures – whether they needed them or not. Although levels were often still within range, the potential is there for micronutrient levels to become increasingly more deficient over time.
It’s prompted an urge for dentists to be aware of this, which is all well and good, but that’s really simply to pass the information onto you, with the dentures (and – brace yourself – you with the dentures for people with teeth).
Now you know.
So brace yourself for denture training. Embrace chewing again; one bite at a time, with the aim of regaining as much bite strength and proper mastication as you can – because digestion starts with the breakdown of food in the mouth; a meditative, masterful thing good for body and soul. Become more focussed on a varied and nutrient-rich diet to fuel your days and nights. Steam, saute, stew, soak or otherwise break down foods without designating yourself the culinary life of a baby who likes a good red. Consider cuisines or styles of eating you may not have before – expand your palate, improve your knowledge of nutrition, and envelop the medicine and the muse of food because there lies the ultimate upside: being healthier than you were because of your dentures.
It’s what they were designed to do.
Note: All content and media on the Sunbury Dental House website and social media channels are created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.
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