Question: I find that some foods have become difficult to chew and swallow. Do I really need to eat the same amount or variety of food that I did when I was younger?
Answer: Maintaining proper nutrition is important for everyone, young or old. Many older adults do not eat balanced diets and avoid meats, raw vegetables and fresh fruits because they have trouble chewing or swallowing. These problems can be caused by painful teeth, ill-fitting dentures, dry mouth or changes in facial muscles. Others find their sense of taste has changed, sometimes due to a disease or certain medications. Because of these and other factors, the diets of older adults are often lacking in calcium, protein and other nutrients essential to dental and overall health. You need a balanced diet based on the five food groups—milk and dairy products; breads and cereals; meats and dried beans; fruits; vegetables. You may need a multi-vitamin or mineral supplement, but do not be your own doctor. Use these supplements only after discussion with your physician.
Also, the food supplements such as Ensure contain a high percentage of sugar. If you are a diabetic, contact your physician to make sure it is OK for you to use these as it could affect your health. I know you don’t have your teeth any more, but if you did these supplements can be very damaging to the teeth. I have seen patients who have dissolved their teeth because they sip on these products on a routine basis.
If you have any questions for future issues, please contact me by phone (586)573-4500, fax (586)573-7704 or e-mail TheGentleDentist@comcast.net. You can also visit our web site for additional information www.TheGentleDentist.com