Five Reasons Why You Have Trouble Chewing and How to Treat Them

woman having toothache

The human digestive process begins with the ingestion of food. This food is broken down into smaller pieces by our teeth and mixed with saliva in our mouths. The food is then swallowed and travels down the esophagus to the stomach.

The stomach then churns the food and breaks it down further. The food then passes through the small intestine, where most nutrients are absorbed. The remaining waste passes through to the large intestine, where water is removed and stored until it is eliminated through the rectum and anus.

Every part of the process is crucial for digestion. However, it’s arguable that the breakdown of food in the mouth can determine the efficiency of the entire process.

Breaking Down of Food

There are a couple of reasons why the breakdown of food in the mouth is so important.

The first reason has to do with the surface area. When food is chewed and mixed with saliva, it’s broken down into smaller pieces. This increases the surface area that’s available for digestion. A larger surface area means people can digest more food and absorb nutrients.

The second reason has to do with enzymes. Enzymes are proteins that help chemical reactions occur. They’re found in all parts of the body, including the mouth. For example, enzymes in the mouth help break down carbohydrates and fats so they can be digested further down the digestive tract.

If food isn’t broken down properly in the mouth, it can lead to several problems.

A woman who can't chew properly due to jaw pain

Trouble Chewing

There are several reasons why you may have trouble chewing. Here are five of the most common causes.

Missing Teeth

One of the most obvious reasons why you may have trouble chewing is if you’re missing teeth. Teeth play a vital role in breaking down food. Without them, it can be difficult to chew properly.

If you’re missing teeth, a few options are available. Dentures and implants are two of the most popular options.

Dentures are false teeth that fit over your gums. They can be removed and put back in at will. Tooth implants are artificial roots that are surgically implanted into your jawbone. They are made of titanium and provide a firm anchor for false teeth. They are also far more convenient than dentures because they’re permanently attached to your mouth.


Cavities are another common reason why you may have trouble chewing. Cavities are caused by tooth decay. Tooth decay occurs when plaque and bacteria build up on your teeth and break down the enamel. This can lead to small holes in your teeth, known as cavities.

Cavities can be painful and make it difficult to chew correctly. If you have holes, your best option is to visit your dentist. They will be able to treat your cavities and help you avoid future ones.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is another common reason for difficulty chewing. Gum disease is an infection of the gums that can cause redness, swelling, and bleeding. It can also lead to the loss of teeth.

Gum disease is caused by plaque and bacteria. Plaque is a sticky film that constantly forms on your teeth. Bacteria are tiny organisms that live in your mouth and cause infection.

Most of the time, gum disease goes away by itself. However, you can treat it by brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, using an antibacterial mouthwash, and avoiding smoking.

Jaw Pain

Jaw pain is another common reason for difficulty chewing. Jaw pain can be caused by several things, including TMJ disorder, arthritis, and teeth grinding.

TMJ disorder is a condition that affects the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. TMJ disorder can cause pain, clicking, and popping of the jaw.

Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints. It can occur in any joint in the body, including the temporomandibular joint. Arthritis can cause pain and stiffness in the jaw.

Teeth grinding is a common habit that many people have. It’s often done unconsciously at night while you’re sleeping. Teeth grinding can cause pain and sensitivity in the teeth.

If you have jaw pain, there are several things you can do to treat it. For example, you can take over-the-counter pain medication, apply ice or heat to the area, and avoid chewing hard foods.

Dry Mouth

A dry mouth is another common reason for difficulty chewing. Dry mouth occurs when there isn’t enough saliva in your mouth. Saliva is essential for lubricating your mouth and keeping it healthy.

A dry mouth can be caused by several things, including dehydration, certain medications, and smoking.

You can treat dry mouth by drinking plenty of fluids, sucking on sugar-free candy, and avoiding tobacco products. You should also avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes, which can further dry your mouth.

These are just a few common reasons you may have trouble chewing. If you’re having difficulty chewing because of these problems, then you can follow the tips above. However, if it gets worse, consider visiting a dentist and getting it treated.

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