News / Asia

Dentists Warn Asians Not to 'Super-Size' Their Food

Two Chinese men walk past a billboard advertising US fast-food giant McDonald's, in Yichang, central China's Hubei province, 8 July, 2010.
Two Chinese men walk past a billboard advertising US fast-food giant McDonald's, in Yichang, central China's Hubei province, 8 July, 2010.

Despite the widespread problem of hunger in Asia, growing economies have lifted many out of poverty. And as incomes expand, so too, are diets. Some health officials say this is causing new problems for Asia's growing middle class.

So, the next time you step into a fast food joint, you may want to choose a regular cheeseburger instead of a Big Mac. Why not super-size your burger?  Because there is a risk of a jaw injury. Dentists in Southeast Asia say they are seeing an increase in the number of jaw disorders and they are blaming stress and the growing popularity of big-sized, Western-style fast food.

Specialized dentist Ansgar Cheng runs a clinic in Singapore. In fact, he is a prothodontist. This reporter asked Cheng what exactly that means.

"We are specialists in reconstructions and the biomechanics of jaw joints," explains Cheng, whose training makes him an expert in temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ. The painful condition occurs when the joint that connects your jaw to your skull becomes inflamed, making chewing painful.

Over the past few years, Cheng says he has seen a considerable increase in the number of TMJ problems, adding that a lot of it can be blamed on people eating super-sized burgers.

"On average most Asians are petite-sized people so, in general, we could say our jaw openings are somewhat smaller than Westerners," he notes.

Dentists Warn Asians Not to 'Super-Size' Their Food
Dentists Warn Asians Not to 'Super-Size' Their Food

Cheng explains that Asians trying to fit a Big Mac into their mouths could over-stretch their chewing muscles, damage mouth cartilage or even dislocate their jaw.

Cheng, who received his training in the United States and Canada, says most people are unaware of TMJ problems, which confuses people when the symptoms arise.

"Like most joints we have two bones riding against each other," he says. "In between the bones we have cartilage, but what happens with TMJ is there is a thin piece of floating cartilage in between the two bones. When we overwork the jaw joints the piece of cartilage gets worn down and we start to experience clicking or pain in the jaw joints."

The injury itself is not necessarily serious at first. But the dentist says that because of the unique conditions in the mouth, and our need to eat food everyday, the problem can become serious.

"If you have a cut on your skin, it takes seven days to heal, no big deal. You break a piece of bone it takes seven to eight weeks to heal. But cartilage is notoriously hard to get healed," Cheng points out. "It takes up to four months and that's the period that causes people problems. What ever noise happens to be in jaw joints it magnifies a lot and you hear that clicking sound."

I suppose we could go on and on about the danger of eating over-sized burgers, but wouldn't it just make a lot of sense to simply cut our food in half so we do not overdue it with our jaws?

Cheng agrees. "That's exactly the case. Instead of getting a giant burger, just go to the same burger joint and ask for a regular burger."

Although it is a rather odd idea that big hamburgers are causing health problems among the small-mouthed people of the world, dentists warn that TMJ is not something to take lightly.

Without treatment, the situation could get worse and become a chronic problem. So remember to cut your hamburgers -- and do not ignore your dentist.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid