Eating is a simple pleasure that everyone should be able to enjoy. If you are having difficulty eating, it can affect your nutrition, self-confidence, and happiness. Luckily, dental treatments can help with many of the common reasons people have difficulty eating.

Sore gums and teeth

Oral health problems can cause the teeth and gums can become sore to the point that it interrupts the enjoyment of food. A sore mouth can have a number of causes, such as gingivitis, ill-fitting dentures, ulcers, or infection. As there can be many causes for a sore mouth, we recommend booking in to see your dentist in order to diagnose the cause. Early treatment can prevent further problems down the line. For more information about the possible causes of toothache, see our article on “Toothache”

Temperature sensitivity

Temperature sensitivity is a common complaint, which may stop you from enjoying your favourite foods. Sensitivity can be caused by:

  • Erosion of tooth enamel, the hard protective coating on the outside of your teeth.
  • Cavities, which cause the nerve endings inside your teeth to become exposed, casing pain and sensitivity.
  • Receding gums, which expose the dentin layer of your teeth. The dentil layer is more sensitive than enamel, and is often associated with temperature sensitivity.

All of these issues are symptomatic of oral health problems that your dentist can assist you with.

Loose or missing teeth

Teeth can become loose through injury, genetic conditions, or through poor oral hygiene. When teeth become loose, it can become increasingly difficult to chew food properly. It is important to fill in missing teeth, or stabilise loose teeth, in order to help assist chewing and to give your other teeth correctly aligned. There are also well-researched links between a healthy smile and self-esteem. For more information on how to improve your smile by filling missing teeth, see our page “A smile you wold like improved.”

Poorly fitting dentures

Over time our mouths change shape over time, but dentures do not. When your gums shrink to the point that your dentures start to slip around your mouth, it can make a simple task like chewing very difficult and frustrating. If you have noticed your dentures don’t fit as well as they used to, you should book in to see your dentist to get them examined. For more information on loose dentures, see our page “Ill-fitting dentures?”

TMJ disorders

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. When the TMJ becomes damaged it can cause pain and tenderness in the jaw, difficulty or pain while chewing, and difficulty opening or closing your jaw (see our page “A sore jaw?”). If you have any pain or tenderness in your jaw, see your dentist as soon as possible. They will evaluate your case, and determine whether or not you need specialist treatment.

Managing eating difficulty

There are a number of simple, lifestyle changes you can make to help make eating food easier, depending on the cause of your eating difficulties:

  • Maintain good dental and oral hygiene
  • Break food down into small pieces
  • Drink through a straw
  • Avoid very hot or cold foods
  • Avoid spicy or acidic foods and fruit juice
  • Eat small meals and snacks high in protein throughout the day

When to see your dentist

In many cases, difficulty eating will be difficult to manage with lifestyle changes alone. Loose or missing teeth, ill-fitting dentures and TMJ disorders may be particularly difficult to manage on your own. If you have significant difficulty eating, see your dentist to discuss which option is best suited to your needs.