Trouble Eating Difficulty Chewing
Numerous issues can cause challenges with chewing or eating. For most patients, when there is difficulty with normal chewing, it is often associated with a change in the tissue, bone or muscular structures in the oral regions. While the source of the problem could be behavioral or medical, the issue is typically associated with other symptoms which can provide insight into the underlying cause or causes. No matter what is causing the problem, when patients struggle with chewing or swallowing, they should seek medical attention right away as it could be a serious issue.
Chewing Difficulties and Possible Causes
It is common for patients to have challenges or pain associated with chewing after experiencing a traumatic injury to the facial or jaw bones. It is also possible for the muscles in the jaw to be susceptible to various other issues. It is possible for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis to occur in the jaw. This condition may however also be a sign of chronic teeth grinding or jaw clenching. Problems which specifically occur in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ or TMD) commonly cause difficulties with regular chewing. Other issues including a dry mouth, gum disease, tooth decay, and the loss of a tooth can also cause pain when eating. While rare, it is also possible for patients to experience difficulty with chewing as from an infection or due to oral cancer. In most cases, patients experience issues with chewing which is associated with damage present in the teeth or gums.
Additional symptoms which develop over time and are associated with chewing issues can help the dentist to determine the underlying cause. When there a strange or unpleasant taste is present in the mouth, it often indicates a dental condition is developing. Earaches, tenderness in the jaw or face and headaches are all associated with grinding of the teeth (bruxism) and TMJ disorders. When a patient experiences rapid or unexpected weight loss, they commonly have a poor diet, which is also common in patients with a chewing difficulty. The condition may also be associated with severe pathology issues. In extreme cases, which are rare, patients who have difficulty chewing can also develop difficulty with swallowing.
Patients who are having difficulty with chewing or are experiencing pain, particularly when there are issues with swallowing, should seek medical attention immediately. While there are some non-serious causes, a medical professional is needed in order to properly evaluate your condition, the symptoms and determine if there are any serious underlying issues. The doctor may also review the gastrointestinal system in order to determine if there are any potential neuromuscular disorders. X-rays which use barium or other radioactive dyes help to trace the source of the problem. An evaluation by a dental professional can help to identify if any oral infections or damage to the teeth or jaw present. Once the underlying cause is determined, the medical professional may refer you to a speech pathologist or occupational therapist to aid in your treatment plan. Until the problem is completely resolved, it is critical to eat soft foods and drink plenty of fluids. It is especially important to eat a balanced and nutritious diet. Work with your doctor to determine if you diet needs to be supplemented.
Follow up with your dentist right away if you are experiencing any pain or challenges with chewing. They can help determine the cause and work with you to find an effective solution.