Chewing Anything Other Than Food
Your jaw can handle pretty much any food when healthy. However, it has a hard time dealing with what we describe as parafunctional chewing habits. These habits involve chewing on anything other than food or using your teeth contrary to their normal function. Everyday nonfood objects that people chew include:
- Pens and pencils
- Gum (too often)
Chewing on these hard objects can stress your jaw joints and muscles. They can lead to dislocation of the jaw joints and painful strain of the jaw muscles.
This also includes using your teeth as tools to crack nuts or open packages. Your teeth are not scissors or pliers, and trying to use them that way can damage not only your teeth but your jaw.
Ice and gum are not foods. Chewing ice is bad for your teeth as well as your jaw. You should never chew ice! Chewing gum can actually be good for your teeth, so it’s okay for short times. Chew sugar-free gum after a meal to help clean your teeth. However, chewing gum too often or too long can be bad for your jaw.