What is chewing problem?
Chewing problem is a medical condition that creates difficulty with chewing. Pain in the mouth, stiffness or discomfort in the jaw muscles, or problems with teeth can make it tough to chew solid foods.
How bad is my chewing problem?
Mild: Asymptomatic, able to chew regular diet.
Moderate: Symptomatic and altered chewing.
Severe: Symptomatic and altered chewing.
How to manage mild chewing problem?
- Eat soft, smooth foods (yogurt or pudding).
- Try softer versions (smoothies, milkshakes, juices) of your favorite fruits or vegetables.
- Moisten dry foods with broth, sauce, butter, or milk.
- Cut food into small bites, and chew slowly.
- Choose food high in calories and protein if you are losing weight.
- Avoid dry, coarse, or hard foods.
- Avoid foods that need a lot of chewing.
- Drink meal replacement or nutritional supplement beverages.
How to manage moderate and severe chewing problem?
Seek immediate medical attention if you are having any issues or pain with chewing. Sometimes the evaluation is advised to rule out more serious underlying issues. Potential neuromuscular disorders will be looked for by your doctor, and your gastrointestinal system will likely be evaluated as well.
What are the causes?
Chewing problem often results from changes to the mouth, jaw, or tongue. Oral and oropharyngeal cancers, cancer treatment cause chewing problems. Several side effects of cancer treatment may cause chewing problems:
- Mucositis (soreness, pain, or inflammation in the mouth).
- Xerostomia or dry mouth due to radiation therapy, chemotherapy, antidepressants, or pain medications.
- Gum disease, tooth decay, or tooth loss. These are possible long-term side effects of dry mouth, radiation therapy, or high-dose chemotherapy.
- Infections of the mouth after radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
- Pain and stiffness in the jaw muscles due to the radiation therapy to the head and neck.
- Tissue and bone loss in the jaw.
- Physical changes to the mouth, jaw, or tongue from surgery.
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