Difficulty Chewing? Reasons Why and What It Could Be
Being able to chew properly is fundamental to the digestive process and eating a nutritious diet. It also promotes the production of saliva that gets rid of food buildup and keeps the mouth healthy and clean. Several different factors usually relating to changes to the tissue, bone structures, or muscles in the jaw or face may cause a person to have difficulty chewing. The changes can be medical or behavioral, so it is important to consider any other related symptoms, such as pain and where it is located when determining what is behind the issue.
Bad Teeth and Tooth Decay
One of the most frequent causes of difficulty chewing is bad teeth or tooth decay. Tooth decay, tooth loss, or gum disease can also make the mouth swollen and sore, making it difficult to chew properly. An unpleasant taste in the mouth and bad-smelling breath will often accompany the chewing difficulties when associated with bad teeth.
If this is the case, your dentist will be able to make recommendations regarding how to treat the issue or prescribe a course of antibiotics if an infection is present. Once the issues relating to bad teeth are resolved, chewing will usually return to normal.
Issues With the
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is similar to a sliding hinge that connects your jawbone to your skull. When there is a problem with the joint, it can result in chewing difficulties. Osteoarthritis, bruxism (teeth grinding), trauma, and genetics are the main causes of issues with the TMJ.
In most instances, these issues can be successfully managed medically, although, occasionally, surgical correction of the issue may be necessary. Other symptoms associated with problems with the TMJ include pain or tenderness in the mouth, aching facial pain, and locking of the joint, making it difficult to open and close the mouth.
Although cancer is less likely, it is nonetheless an important consideration when someone is experiencing chewing difficulties. Unfortunately, sometimes these more serious issues can be masked by gum disease or poor dental hygiene.
Radiation and chemotherapy can also have side effects that can impact a person’s ability to chew properly. Dry mouth and mouth ulcers can be relatively common side effects of these treatments. They can also increase the likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease. If you are about to undergo treatment of this nature, it is recommended you talk to your dentist, who can help with mouth rinses and other options to minimize this.
Chewing is a fundamental part of the digestive process and key to being able to consume a healthy and nutritious diet. There are potentially serious long-term health consequences of not being able to chew properly. There are also some potentially serious underlying causes. For these reasons, it is important you see your doctor or dentist sooner rather than later if you are experiencing any difficulty chewing.
Suburban Essex Dental is an NJ Top-rated dentist located in West Orange New Jersey. Give us a call or contact us here to schedule an appointment. We look forward to adding you to our long list of smiling patients.