Nervous Chewing of Nonfood
Putting something in our mouth when we’re nervous, stressed, or bored is something we all unconsciously do. There are many things that people chew, such as your nails, pen tops, pencils, paper clips. Look around your house and chances are you’ll find the evidence of this bad habit if you have it.
But chewing on nonfood not only puts stress on your dental enamel, but it also stresses your jaw joint and jaw muscles, leading to pain.
Using Your Teeth as Tools
Closely related to chewing nonfood is using your teeth in ways that you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t use them for anything but eating! You might use them as scissors, pliers, bottle openers, nutcrackers, or icebreakers. The force required for these tasks can put stress on teeth, your jaw joint, and your jaw muscles.
Opening Your Mouth Too Wide
Sometimes we overextend our jaw when there’s no need. Yawning is natural, but you may be opening your mouth too wide when you yawn. Try to pay attention when you yawn and don’t open your mouth more than necessary. Also don’t make food that’s too tall to bite into, like a Dagwood sandwich.
Not Cutting up Food
If you’re taking too large bites of food, you could be forcing yourself to chew too much. Chewing is the process of taking food from large pieces to small pieces.
“By cutting your food into smaller pieces, you are saving your jaw some of the work, so your muscles are less stressed.”
You might think your jaw pain is nothing serious and will pass, and usually, it does. But if your pain doesn’t get better after a few days, or if it recurs regularly, you may need professional help. To learn more about TMJ treatment in Orange County, please call (949) 551-5902 for an appointment at Rice Dentistry.