Are You Biting Off More Than You Can Chew?
How TMD Pain is Caused
The pain associated with TMD is caused when the temporomandibular joint (the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull) is damaged or has deteriorated or when the muscles surrounding the joint are malfunctioning, causing an imbalance in the movement of the jaw joint. For instance, TMD can be caused by the impact of an auto accident, an improper bite that causes stress on the chewing muscles or by behaviors associated with stress, such as clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth.
The muscle pain and spasms associated with TMD are often compared to that of a “charley horse” in a runner’s leg.
If you are one of more than 10 million Americans who suffer from temporomandibular disorder (TMD), a condition that causes face, jaw and neck pain, relief may be found in a dental procedure called equilibration, according to Jerry Butler, DDS, FAGD. Equilibration involves the selective reshaping of the top surfaces of the teeth to provide normal balance and to stabilize the jaw joint
In our fast-paced lives, many of us may be eating in a hurry, taking giant bites of our food to get done quickly and on to the next task. Fast-food restaurants advertise giant burgers and sandwiches as a selling point, but often those super-sized delicacies are larger than a human mouth.
Taking bites that are too big to chew could be bad for your jaw and teeth, says the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing education. At particular risk are people with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), which can restrict the range of acceptable bite size. “People with TMD need to avoid opening their mouths too wide,” says AGD spokesperson Barbara A. Rich, DDS, FAGD. “Taking large bites of food can aggravate their condition.” So, smoosh that hoagie before taking a bite.
Dr. Rich also cautions against biting into hard candies, which can chip teeth. Even apples can cause problems. “If you need to open your mouth more than feels comfortable to take a bite, then you should cut the item into smaller portions that are easy to chew,” Dr. Rich says.
People should always avoid chewing ice, popcorn kernels and opening nuts with their teeth, which can lead to chipping and breakage of natural teeth and restorations.