When you think about strong jaws, you probably picture a great white shark’s endless rows of teeth or the snapping maw of a crocodile. However, the truth is you don’t have to be a fearsome beast of the wild to have a strong bite; the human jaw actually possesses fairly impressive strength, too.
Okay, maybe it’s not the 3,700 pounds of force that a 17-foot crocodile’s jaws can exert on its prey, but for mere average humans, our jaw strength isn’t too shabby.
How Much Force Can the Human Jaw Exert?
Everyone’s anatomy is slightly different, and different jaw structure, length, width, muscle mass, and strength affects the force of the jaw.
A study used a gnathodynamometer (a special tool with a pair of padded arms separated by springs that was designed to measure the force of a human bite) to evaluate about a thousand different bites.
The study determined that the jaw’s pressure is different when measured on the molars (back teeth) vs. a person’s incisors (front teeth). Most people (but not all) can put more pressure on their molars than on their incisors.
The strongest human jaw force measured in the study was the maximum the gnathodynamometer could read, 275 pounds of force. For men, the average pounds of force exerted by the jaw on the molars was 150 pounds and 83 pounds on the incisors. For women, the average was 108 pounds on the molars and 57 pounds on the incisors.
Ultimately, the study found that the force of the human jaw was limited not by muscle strength but by the strength of the teeth themselves. When biting down on the gnathodynamometer most participants stopped increasing pressure because their teeth hurt – not because they couldn’t press any harder.
Teeth Strength and the Force of the Jaw
Although tooth enamel is one of the hardest tissues in the human body, it is still surprisingly delicate. Even healthy teeth can be chipped, cracked, or broken when exposed to the full clamping force of the temporomandibular joints (the two joints that act as hinges to your jawbone).
Teeth that have been weakened by decay, old amalgam fillings, or other oral health problems are even more susceptible to damage from the normal force of the human bite.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders, Bruxism, and Your Teeth
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are characterized by abnormalities with the temporomandibular joints. Individuals with TMJ disorders often experience problems with the functionality of their joints and jaw, such as lockjaw, trouble chewing or speaking, bruxism (grinding teeth and/or clenching the jaw), and sleep bruxism (bruxism that occurs during sleep).
These problems put abnormally high amounts of wear and tear on a person’s enamel and teeth, often compromising the structure and strength of the teeth and leading to more serious health problems such as:
- Tooth decay
- Bacterial infections and abscesses
- Receding, swollen, painful, or bleeding gums
- Periodontal disease
- Severe tooth sensitivity
- Chipped, cracked, or broken teeth
- Tooth loss
If you experience frequent pain or discomfort in your jaw; have clicking, popping, or grinding sounds in your jaw; or often wake up in the morning with painful teeth or headaches, then you might be suffering from a TMJ disorder or sleep bruxism.
If this sounds like you, then we strongly encourage you to schedule an examination with a dentist at Eastgate Dental Excellence. We can talk with you about your symptoms and examine your teeth for signs of wear and tear related to TMJ disorder or bruxism. Additionally, we can evaluate the range of motion, function, and movement of your temporomandibular joints to diagnose the underlying cause of your painful symptoms and recommend a treatment plan designed specifically for you.
Bruxism and TMJ Disorder Treatment at Eastgate Dental Excellence
With the jaw’s ability to exert so much force, any disorders associated with the temporomandibular joints can cause a great amount of pain and discomfort.
In addition to wearing down tooth enamel, temporomandibular joint disorders often lead to tooth sensitivity, frequent headaches and migraines, difficulty chewing, jaw pain and tenderness, neck pain, face pain, and even earaches.
At Eastgate Dental Excellence, we offer patients a variety of treatment options and therapies designed to prevent damage from bruxism and to ease the symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder.
In addition to mouthguards and nightguards to prevent damage from bruxism, we also provide orthodontics that can help improve your bite alignment, sometimes resolving TMJ disorder. Our dental clinic also provides patients with Botox treatments for TMJ pain.
Botox treatments provide long-lasting relief from the pain and discomfort associated with temporomandibular joint disorder. To learn more about these treatments and other options available with our dentists in Cincinnati, we welcome you to schedule a jaw pain consultation at Eastgate Dental Excellence today.