If you find it difficult to open your mouth completely, experience discomfort when chewing food, and your jaw locks often, you are likely suffering from TMJ disorder and your daily diet can make your condition severe. The main causes of the temporomandibular joint disorder are stress, misaligned teeth, and inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders but it is very important that you know the symptoms of this dysfunction.
Some of the symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Swelling of the jaw
- Tooth grinding
- Jaw popping
- Locked jaw
- Frequent headaches
- Sharp pain when chewing food
- Inflamed nerves
- Painful yawning
- Tenderness in jaw muscles
- Ear ache and neck pain
These symptoms can also occur in other medical conditions and so it is important to consult a dentist who can accurately diagnose your TMJ symptoms. A complete dental check-up that is done using X-rays, CT scans and MRI ensures an accurate diagnosis which is essential to creating an effective treatment plan. If you encounter any of the signs or symptoms mentioned above, it is best to visit a dentist for an early diagnosis and timely TMJ treatment. Poor posture, lack of sleep, and hard foods can worsen your existing TMJ disorder. Visiting a dentist will help you determine the root cause of your problem and you will also be given certain corrective measures to alleviate the pain and discomfort.
Diet modification also plays a major role in providing faster relief so if you follow these dietary guidelines, you will experience better outcomes.
If you are suffering from TMJ disorder, the top 5 foods that you should avoid in your daily diet include:
- Crunchy Foods
When you have TMJ, avoid eating crunchy foods like chips, popcorn etc. Avoid hard rolls and hard vegetables like crisp celery and carrots as intensity pressure is required to chew them. It is important to include fruits and vegetables in the diet as the flavonoid in them can work as a natural anti-inflammatory substance.
- Chewy Foods
Chewy foods like caramel, chewing gum, tough pieces of meat, taffy, escargot etc. involve heavy and constant motion of the jaw which can elevate TMJ pain. Go for softer food like yogurt, bananas, fish, poultry and mashed potatoes to avoid any more damage.
- Fatty Foods
Studies have shown that the fat content in some foods may cause increased inflammation in your body. Avoid red meat, pastries, fried foods and cream sauces to ease the pain caused by TMJ. Choose low-fat milk, chicken, pork, low-fat cheese, yogurt, fish etc. over any fatty foods.
- Large Pieces of Food
TMJ is painful and in some cases it becomes very difficult to open the mouth more than a couple of inches. Biting on a huge chunk of food, especially while eating thick sandwiches, large portions of fruit or big pieces of any other food can overwork your jaw. The best solution is to nibble on smaller pieces.
- Crunchy Foods
Food to Include in Your Diet for Reduced Pain
If you are suffering from TMJ disorder, your daily diet should include
Fresh fruit juices, vegetable or chicken soup, broth, milk etc. should be consumed during TMJ. The jaw needs to be given sufficient rest to recover. A wholesome liquid diet will not only help in that but will also provide necessary nutrition to keep you going.
- Soft Foods
Consuming a soft diet that contains scrambled eggs, yogurt, fruits, quinoa, and well-cooked vegetables will improve nutrition and offer relief from TMJ pain. You can also consume soft-cooked foods like fish sticks, meatballs, chicken, tuna, green beans, legumes, kale, squash and spinach. While this cannot be a permanent fix, following a soft food diet will help relax the jaw muscles and accelerate the healing process.
- Anti-Inflammatory Food
To beat TMJ pain, add a good number of anti-inflammatory foods into your diet plan. Omega3 fatty acids have antioxidant properties and foods that are rich with them include cold water fish like salmon and mackerel. Consuming these fish helps reduce the inflammation of TMJ. Berries, broccoli and pepper are also good as anti-inflammatory foods. Also, add garlic and onion in your daily cooking and salads.
- Foods Rich in Magnesium
Magnesium is very efficient in relaxing the nervous system and this serves well for those suffering from TMJ. Magnesium rich foods like nuts, lentils, dark leafy greens, beans, dried fruits, avocados, low-fat dairy products etc. can help relax the jaw muscles.
- Foods Rich in Calcium
Researches have indicated that calcium helps in reducing TMJ, just like magnesium. Unpolished rice,raw milk, spinach, green peas, cabbage, sesame, oranges, banana, wheat flour with husk, coconut, almond, groundnut etc. are great sources of calcium.
- Other Nutritional Supplements
Vitamin B is known to lower down stress levels which, in turn, can lower down TMJ pain. Its deficiency can be overcome by taking Vitamin B-Complex tablets/capsules for a few days as prescribed. Another important mineral for TMJ pain is glucosamine sulfate. It is known to repair cartilages and give relief from stiffness, swelling and pain in joint-related disorders like TMJ, osteoarthritis etc. However, it should only be consumed under experienced medical guidance as there are good chances of side effects. Raw parsley, Ginko Biloba and spinach are great sources of glucosamine.
How to Eat When the Pain Flares Up
In order to reduce the pain radiating from your TMJ, you should increase your intake of fluids like soups, stews and smoothies. When you are eating solid foods, you must take small bites to limit the opening of the jaw, chew slowly, use sauces or gravies to soften the food, peel the skin of fruits and vegetables before consuming them and chop whole foods into bite-size pieces.
Eating Right for Enhanced Jaw Health
While a soft food diet works to heal your TMJ disorder, you can consider adding a few foods that are proven to enhance the health of your temporomandibular joint. These foods include fatty fish, ginger, eggplant, berries, grapes, bone broth and vegetable soup. Adding olive oil wherever you can and consuming dietary Vitamin D will work to reduce the pain and joint inflammation.
Finally, avoid stress because it has a negative impact on your temporomandibular joint and contributes to pain and discomfort. The key to an effective TMJ treatment and lasting relief is an early diagnosis that determines the root cause of the problem and helps confirm the next best treatment approach.
At Joshua Hong DDS, patients can be confident of receiving the right TMJ treatment in Goodyear AZ. Contact us today to experience a dramatic improvement in your painful condition and get treated by the best dentist in Goodyear.