Eating is essential to life, of course, but eating with a mouth problem can be challenging. Problems such as loss of tooth enamel, braces, dry mouth, a sore mouth or a sore throat can make it hard to bite, chew and swallow food.
Fortunately, there are ways to overcome the eating problems that can come from certain mouth conditions. Some solutions involve food choices, while other solutions have you prepare your favorite foods a little differently.
Tips for Eating with a Mouth Condition
Braces can be uncomfortable, especially while eating. The brackets can poke into your cheeks and gums, and the entire assembly can prevent you from chewing properly. Eating can be uncomfortable for the first few weeks after you get braces, and the discomfort is usually the worst in the first few days. Tightening braces can also make eating uncomfortable.
To eat with braces:
- Choose soft foods, such as applesauce, smoothies and well-cooked vegetables
- Avoid nuts, seeds, popcorn and other food that might get stuck in your braces and be tough to remove
- Eat cool foods, such as ice cream, popsicles and frozen yogurt, which will temporarily dull the pain
- Cut your food into small pieces and take small bites, so less chewing is involved
- Chew slowly, so you do not accidently bite down too hard or poke yourself in the cheeks or gums while chewing
Dry mouth is a condition in which your salivary glands do not produce enough saliva to keep the tissues of your mouth moist and functioning well. Dry mouth is a special problem while eating, as saliva helps you chew and swallow your food. Certain medical conditions can cause dry mouth, as can medications and treatments.
- Suck on sugarless candy or chew sugarless gum to stimulate the flow of saliva
- Limit your consumption of caffeine, as it can make your mouth dry
- Take sips of water regularly
Tooth enamel is the hard, outer layer that covers and protects your teeth and the sensitive material beneath the enamel, known as dentin. Acid from food and drinks can erode the enamel to expose the dentin below, and this can lead to pain and sensitivity when you eat or drink.
To overcome eating problems associated with dental erosion:
- Avoid consuming carbonated sodas and sports drinks – even the diet brands – as the American Dental Association says that these beverages are the most significant causes of dental erosion
- Stay away from acidic foods and beverages, particularly lemons, oranges, other citrus fruits and fruit juices, as they contain natural acids that may lead to dental erosion
- Finish your meal with a bite of cheese or small glass of milk to help reduce the effects of acid in food and drinks
- Chew sugar-free gum after eating to stimulate the production of saliva, which helps to neutralize the acids that form in your mouth when you eat
Sore mouth or throat
A sore mouth can make chewing painful, while a sore throat can make swallowing miserable. A number of conditions can cause a temporary sore mouth or throat, including gum disease, impacted wisdom teeth, viral infections like colds and strep throat. Some conditions, such as oral or throat cancer, can cause long-term pain in your mouth or throat.
To eat more easily with a sore throat or mouth:
- Choose nutritious foods that are high in calories and protein, yet are soft, bland and creamy enough to swallow easily; focus on cream-based soups, yogurt, cheeses and pudding
- Chop meat, fish, poultry and other whole foods into very small pieces – you can also mix these foods in a blender with sauce or a low-fat gravy
- Avoid dry, crunchy foods, such as pretzels, granola and dry toast
- Stay away from food and beverages that are tart, spicy, salty or acidic, such as tomato- and citrus-based foods and drinks, as these can sting a sore mouth or throat
No matter what mouth condition you may be experiencing, eating nutritious food can help your oral problem heal faster and keep your body healthier. Focus on foods that are high in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber when possible. Eating foods high in calories and protein can help you avoid unwanted weight loss while you recover from your mouth condition.
Treatment for Your Healing Mouth
For more information about eating with a mouth condition, contact Briglia Dental Group. Our dentist, Ronald J. Briglia D.M.D. can provide other tips about eating a nutritious diet while you recover from a problem affecting your mouth. If your sore mouth is the result of a dental problem, we can even provide treatment for it. Briglia Dental Group is located at 600 East Marshall Street Suite 201 in West Chester, PA. For more information, please call (610) 692-4440.