Can My Diet Affect My TMJ?

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders impact the chewing muscles and the joint that connects your jaw and skull. Pain associated with this joint is called temporomandibular joint disorder (also known as TMJ). Activities that may seem simple such as chewing, drinking, and talking can be much more challenging for people suffering from this disorder. Don’t fret – there are things you can do to help with this pain and improve the way your jaw works. Treatments include exercises, splints, nightguards, and in extreme cases, surgery. However, the best place to start is making changes to your diet and everyday habits that you may not even know are causing these issues. In this article, we highlight various foods and habits that may be making your TMJ pain worse.

Chew Using Both Sides of Your Mouth

If you prefer chewing using only one side of your mouth, you’re not alone! However, if you’re suffering from TMJ pain, this is a habit that you need to break. When chewing using only one side of your mouth, you are stressing the muscles exclusively on that side. This can cause your joint dysfunction to flare up and cause extreme discomfort.

Eliminate as Many Hard Foods as Possible

Eliminating certain types of food from your diet is a great way to figure out how to manage your pain and problems. We recommend starting with harder, tougher foods. A bag of crunchy chips is a great snack but can really affect your jaw, especially if you are already experiencing discomfort. Avoiding those crunchy, tough, and chewy foods will give your jaw time to heal and rest, as opposed to grinding and working the joints into overdrive. Instead, try soups, cooked vegetables, eggs, and yogurt for a great snack or meal. If you can’t satisfy your cravings with any of these options, make sure to cut up your food into finer, easier to chew pieces.

Avoid Foods Containing Salicylates

Any food containing salicylic acid can extremely aggravate your TMJ. This acid is commonly found in raw vegetables, hot peppers, fruits, juices, and jams/jellies. Try removing these salicylic acid-rich foods from your diet temporarily and see if the pain lessens.

Substitute Your Chewing Gum for Mints

Next time you go to toss your favorite type of chewing gum in your mouth, consider opting for mints instead (as long as you don’t chew these either). Constantly chewing gum can cause some serious wear and tear on your joints, resulting in a flare-up of TMJ pain.

Letting your jaw muscles and joints relax is the first step to correcting TMJ disorders. TMJ pain can limit your jaw ability, so it is critical to try and relieve the pressure in any way possible. If you find you are experiencing TMJ pain or discomfort, contact Yazdani Family Dentistry today for a solution!