Trouble Eating Difficulty Chewing
There are various problems which can cause issues with eating and chewing. In many cases when a patient is having difficulty with routine chewing, there is often a change in the tissue, bone or muscular structures which exist in the oral regions. Although the issue could be behavioral or medical, it is often associated with additional symptoms. These symptoms can provide the dentist with insight to the underlying causes. Regardless of the cause of the difficulty with chewing, when there is an issue with chewing or swallowing, it should be addressed by a medical professional immediately as it could be related to a serious issue.
Chewing Difficulties and Possible Causes
Patients who are experiencing challenges or pain which is affiliated with chewing, have often recently had a traumatic injury to the bones in the face or jaws. The muscles located in the jaw can also be susceptible to other issues. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can present themselves in the jaw. Chewing issues may also be a sign of chronic teeth grinding or clenching the jaw. Issues which are specifically occurring in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ or TMD) often result in challenges with chewing. Other issues such as a dry mouth, gum disease, tooth decay, and the loss of a tooth can also cause pain and issues with eating. Although it is quite rare, patients can experience difficulty with chewing due to an infection or from some types of oral cancer. Most patients experience issues with chewing that is associated with some type of damage to the teeth or gums.
Additional symptoms which can develop over time can aid the dentist in determining the underlying cause of chewing issues. As an example, when there is a strange or unpleasant taste in the mouth, this often suggests the development of a dental condition. Tenderness of the jaw and face, earaches, and headaches can all be associated with teeth grinding (bruxism) or the TMJ disorder. Patients who have a difficulty with chewing often have a poor diet. Severe pathology issues can also be associated with the condition. While it is extremely rare, patients who are having difficulty with chewing can sometimes also develop difficulties with their swallowing.
Patients should seek medical attention immediately if they are having difficulty with chewing or experiencing pain, especially when there is an issue with swallowing. While it is not always serious, a medical professional should thoroughly evaluate the patient’s symptoms to determine if a serious underlying issue is present. The doctor may also need to evaluate the gastrointestinal system. This helps them determine if a neuromuscular disorder could exist. X-rays that use barium or other radioactive dyes can also be helpful in identifying the source of the problem. A dental professional can complete an evaluation to help identify the presence of any oral infections or damage to the oral region. Once the doctor or dentist has identified the underlying cause, the patient may be referred to an occupational therapist or speech pathologist for additional treatment. It is important to eat soft foods and drink plenty of fluids while the problem is being resolved. The doctor or dentist can help determine if any supplementation to the diet is needed.
Patients should follow up with a dentist immediately if they are experiencing any pain in the mouth, jaw or having challenges with chewing. The dentist can work with you to determine the cause and develop an effective treatment plan.