Chewing Problems & Pain

Help! I Can't Chew Well and My Jaw Hurts...

Diagnosis is the Key

Trouble chewing, with or without pain, is probably the most common presenting complaint for dental patients.  There can be many causes.  An accurate diagnosis is the most important factor in obtaining satisfactory resolution. It is important that the doctor take time to listen to the patient’s story and carefully examine, prior to recommending and commencing remedial care.  For diagnostic purposes, it is helpful to divide this issue into 4 categories:

  1. Chewing Problems without Pain is usually related to one of two issues:
    • Missing Teeth (with or without a removable tooth replacement): If you have missing teeth you just can’t chew as well.  Patients with a removable denture of any kind will tell you they just don’t chew as well with a denture or partial as they did with their natural teeth.  Please visit our page on dental implants for a more in-depth discussion of how dental implants can replace missing teeth or make a loose denture much more stable and comfortable!
    • Mal-Aligned Teeth: Teeth that don’t fit together well not only don’t look attractive, they don’t chew well.  We are a certified provider for Invisalign orthodontic treatment. Please visit our Invisalign page for more in-depth discussion of Invisible braces.
  2. Chewing problems with specific tooth pain may be caused by decay, a crack in a tooth, localized gum infections, or a bite imbalance that is causing one or two teeth to hit too hard.  A thorough review of history, a thorough exam, and x-rays usually will identify the problem and the necessary treatment to resolve the problem.
  3. Chewing problems with pain in a broader area may be caused by infection, clenching or grinding excessively hard (especially at night), or a Jaw Joint issue. Review our page on TMJ & TMJ disorders for a more in-depth discussion on TMJ / TMD problems.
  4. Pain in and around the Jaw Joint is a very common symptom of TMJ / TMD problems.  It also can be the site of referred pain from another area.  For a more in-depth discussion on jaw joint related pain, please visit our TMJ & TMD disorders page.

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If you would like help with diagnosis and treatment of your chewing or jaw problems, please call our Kansas City, MO office at (816) 587-6444 for an appointment!