Great food is a source of much enjoyment for countless people. Aside from not being able to taste your food, another big obstacle to enjoying your food would be if it hurt to chew. Sadly, this can be the reality for many patients struggling with TMJ disorder.
Why Does It Hurt to Chew?
Chewing consists of contracting a variety of muscles to move the lower jaw (mandible) and bring the teeth together. One reason it might hurt to chew is a dysfunctional jaw joint. When the joint that connects the jaw to the skull (the temporomandibular joint) is dysfunctional, the muscles and ligaments that aid in chewing have to work extra hard to compensate which can be painful for some patients.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) could become dysfunctional as a result of:
4 Options for Managing Chewing Pains
Some patients can find relief for painful chewing by:
- Minimizing wide jaw movements. While you’re eating, this can mean taking smaller bites as to not overexert your jaw and mouth muscles.
- Avoiding certain foods. Foods that need to be chewed a lot can irritate the joint further.
- Exercising your jaw. Mobility exercises can help regulate pain by teaching good habits and stretching muscles in a controlled exercise.
- Noticing bad habits. Sometimes even when we’re not chewing to eat we can still mimic the same motions and strain the same muscles. Some of these habits include nail-biting, cheek or lip chewing, clenching, and teeth grinding.
While avoiding situations that can make joint pain worse can be effective for some patients, it may not be a long-term solution for everyone. To determine if your symptoms are a sign of TMJ disorder you can schedule an evaluation with Dr. Schick. If it’s determined that your symptoms are consistent with TMJ disorder, she can recommend an appropriate treatment if suitable in your unique case.
Scheduling an Appointment
If you live in Calgary, Northwest Calgary, Cochrane or other nearby areas of Alberta and would like to learn more about your individual symptoms and what may be causing them, you can call Evolution Dental today at 403-768-2433 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kendra Schick.
*all procedures performed at our practice by a general dentist