Why Can’t I Chew Properly?

All manner of symptoms can point to all kinds of different problems; difficulty chewing is no exception. There are three common causes for chewing problems:

  • Jaw Discomfort
  • Tooth and Gum Discomfort
  • Dry Mouth


Each of these causes could point to a number of possible conditions; let’s take a deeper look:


Jaw Discomfort

Jaw discomfort causing chewing problems is perhaps most often associated with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs), sometimes mistakenly called TMJ (after the joint that’s causing the problems). The cause of TMDs isn’t always clear – jaw injuries, bruxism (tooth grinding/clenching), stress, and improperly fitted dentures are all linked with TMD. Treatments for TMD vary, but it will often go away on its own. When it’s uncomfortable, applying cold or warm compresses, gently massaging the jaw, and over-the-counter analgesics can all help. 


Malocclusion (misalignment of the teeth) can sometimes also cause chewing problems, though these tend not to be severe – it’s unlikely that misaligned teeth alone would make chewing very difficult. Nonetheless, you can always consult with your dentist if you feel misalignment may be at the root of your chewing problems.


Tooth and Gum Discomfort

When your teeth are sensitive and your gums are swollen, you’re not going to enjoy chewing – you might find you’re unable to chew properly as a result. The most common causes for tooth and gum discomfort are cavities and gingivitis, respectively. A good oral health routine can help with this; when your teeth are sensitive to heat and cold, a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can help.


That said, you really shouldn’t leave things up to sensitive toothpastes. When your teeth are very sensitive, it’s not unlikely there’s an oral health problem you need to get fixed. Go see your dentist.


Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is caused by insufficient saliva production. That makes it hard to chew. There are so many reasons you might have dry mouth it’s almost impossible to list them all. Here are some:

  • Use of medications that cause dry mouth
  • Smoking
  • Recreational drug use
  • Mouth breathing
  • Age-related changes
  • Celiac disease
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Dehydration


As you can imagine, the treatment for the different types of dry mouth is going to vary significantly – for short-term fixes, chewing gum and drinking plenty of water may help. 


Now, these are only a few of the possible causes for difficulty chewing, and each of the symptoms we brought up could have more different causes than it would be practical to list. It’s worth mentioning that trauma is one of the leading causes of difficulty chewing – if you’ve broken or dislocated your jaw, chewing could be very painful. Dental emergencies in Winnipeg can be dealt with the day they happen. Jaw trauma, however, should typically be responded to by the emergency services available at a hospital.