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.
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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.
hazard (n) 危險；危害
bite off more than you can chew不自量力
這裡是一語雙關的用法，本來 bite off more than you can chew 的字面意思是「咬了太大一口，嚼不下去」的樣子，被用來比喻做事時「不自量力」。這裡的情形又符合了字面意思，意思是亞洲人如果沒有體認到東、西方人在顱部構造上的差異，而勉強的要張大嘴去吃特大號的食物，不自量力的結果就是對咬合關節造成潛在的傷害 (hidden hazards)
widespread (a) 分佈廣的；普遍的
joint (n) 據點、場所；關節
joint一字的兩個主要的意思在本新聞裡都剛好出現。一是指一般性的「營業、聚會場所」，如 fast-food joint (速食餐廳)，joint 另一個意思則是我們身上「骨頭連結的地方」，也就是「關節」。為了吃特大號的食物而把嘴巴張的太大，會造成關節上的傷害 (joint injury)，也可能造成下巴的關節障礙 (joint disorder)。文中特別是指「顳頜關節疾病」temporomandibular joint disorder，這在咬合時會造成疼痛的情況。新聞中也提到，會有這樣關節的問題是因為負責連接下巴跟頭顱 (skull) 的軟骨 (cartilage)被過故使用與過度延展，而產生的發炎狀態 (inflamed)。
prothodontist (n) 假牙專科；贗復牙醫專科 *本字又可拼為 prosthodontist
這個字可以拆開來看，前面的 prosthetic 是義肢的意思，所以牙齒的義肢就是假牙，而假牙的專科醫生就叫做 prothodontist，有比較「正式」的說法，就是「贗復牙醫」。另外，牙齒矯正的技術進步了，接受矯正的人也變多了，專門負責牙齒矯正的牙醫是 orthodontist。字首 ortho- 有「正確的、標準的」意思，所以要把牙齒給放到對的地方去，就是 orthodontist 的責任。醫學相關的字，通常都很長，也不一定常用，記不得也無所謂，但講到牙醫，要記得通稱的 dentist，牙醫學為 dentistry。
skull (n) 顱骨；頭（蓋）骨
inflamed (a) 發炎的；紅腫的
petite-sized (a) 個頭嬌小的 *petite 字源是法語，發音上要注意。
over-stretch (v) 過度延展
cartilage (n) 軟骨組織
為了咬比嘴巴大的漢堡，結果就是過度的延展 (over-stretch) 了咬合的肌肉 (chewing muscles)，這不僅傷害軟骨 (cartilage)，嚴重的話還會造成下巴脫臼 (dislocate their jaw)。新聞裡用到不少「複合形容詞」，東方人的體型比較嬌小 (petite-sized)，嘴巴也比較小 (small-mouthed)，為了吃西式的超大漢堡 (over-sized) 就必須把嘴張的很大，過度使用的結果就造成軟骨受傷了。
unaware (a) 不知道；沒意識到；未察覺
no big deal 沒什麼大不了；無所謂；沒關係
notoriously (adv) 惡名昭彰地,聲名狼藉地
chronic (a) 長期的；慢性的
傷口或骨折其實都不是什麼大事情 (no big deal)，但軟骨的傷害卻是「出了名的」難痊癒，也因此「惡名昭彰」(notoriously hard to get healed)。由於每天吃東西的時候都要咬合，拉長了恢復的時間，而且骨頭摩擦時所會發出聲音，發生在下巴的關節處，會有被放大的效果 (magnify)，會一直聽到喀喀的聲音 (clicking sound)。如果沒有妥善治療，還會演變成長期的病痛 (a chronic problem)。