As one of only five senses, taste is essential to enjoying our quality of life. When you cannot taste your food properly, a little bit of the joy in life goes away. Not only that, but you can lose motivation to eat, which can lead to poor nutrition.
We naturally lose our sense of taste as we age, and dentures can make it worse, but they don’t have to. Proper denture maintenance, getting properly fitted dentures like our premium dentures, or using implant-secured dentures can all lead to better taste as we age (though it must be admitted that our grandkids will probably still scoff at our wardrobe).
We Lose Taste As We Age
Unfortunately, if you’ve noticed that food seems less flavorful than it did when you were younger, it’s not entirely the food’s fault. As we age, our sense of taste diminishes, but it’s very uneven. Your sense of taste may be halved for some flavors, while other flavors may only be 1/9th as strong. Some flavors may not be affected at all. Because they are better able to taste salty and sweet flavors, some elderly people lean heavily on foods high in salt or sugar. Loss of smell contributes to the loss of taste. To detect them, elderly people may need 49 times higher concentration of some scents than younger people.
Dentures Can Affect Taste
On top of the natural loss of taste with age, dentures can make matters worse. A denture that covers the upper palate is more likely to result in loss of taste because the palate plays a role in taste and smell. The role of the palate seems highly variable, however, and not everyone is significantly impacted by dentures that cover the palate.
If dentures are not properly cleaned, residual deposits on the dentures can cause a bad taste or interfere with your taste of foods. Cheap dentures may have a worse problem with this. The low-quality plastic used in these dentures is more porous, which can cause it to pick up more odors and tastes, leading them to have a more persistent impact on your taste. They are also more likely to stain because of dark-colored foods and drinks.
You may also find that the amount of denture cream used to secure poorly fitting dentures may impact your sense of taste. Use only the recommended amount, and clean any excess away after pressing your dentures in place and biting down.
Impact of Taste Loss on Nutrition
If food doesn’t taste as good, it doesn’t seem worth the effort to get anything but the minimum necessary to stave off hunger. People with diminished taste:
- Lose interest in cooking
- Steer away from foods with sour or bitter tastes, which contain important nutrients
- Eat more sweets (contributing to diabetes)
- Take in more salt (which is bad for cardiovascular health)
- Eat less low-fat dairy (making osteoporosis worse)
- Eat more fat (again, bad for cardiovascular health)
These changes in eating habits can put people at increased risk for chronic diseases.
Minimizing the Impact of Dentures
Dentures don’t have to make an impact on your sense of taste or your health. You can reduce the impact dentures will have on you by:
- Cleaning dentures properly
- Minimize the use of denture cream with better-fitting dentures
- If covering the upper palate affects your sense of taste, try dentures supported by dental implants, which don’t need an upper plate
When you invest in quality dentures and care for them properly, you will enjoy a much higher quality of life. This may include not a richer taste leading to better memories, but a more attractive appearance and greater confidence. Properly fitting dentures can even make it easier to enjoy a more active life as you get older.