The Optimal Diet for TMD Patients – What to Eat and What to Avoid

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For over 15 years now, I’ve been offering TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) treatments and lecturing how it can be caused by a misaligned bite (occlusion). I often have patients who have not yet gone through TMJ disorder treatment  ask how they can reduce and manage their TMJ disorder (TMD) pain at home.

Patients will tell you that TMD’s symptoms can inflict some of the most difficult pain to deal with, and they would not wish it upon anyone. Symptoms like jaw pain, migraines, and limited ability to open their mouth, adversely affect their everyday lives.

TMD patients may even have to limit their diet because the simple act of chewing can be too painful.

What to Avoid – Foods That Contribute to TMJ Pain

Your TMJ disorder and your misaligned bite (occlusion) are not isolated to your head and jaws. TMD can lead to excruciating migraines caused by pain generated from the jaw, the head, the neck, and the shoulders. Some patients can’t even eat because they’re in so much pain.

Fortunately, before proceeding with TMJ treatment with our Calgary dentist office, sticking to an optimal diet may manage your jaw and facial pain.

When choosing the best diet for TMJ, the goal is to eat for joint health

The first step – know which foods to avoid.

Avoid foods that cause pain and inflammation at all costs. You don’t have to ban these foods from your diet forever. Occasional consumption is fine as long as you don’t experience any pain or joint discomfort. However, until your TMJ treatment is complete, eating according to the recommendations below is best.

Examples of foods to avoid include the following

  • Hard Foods – This includes hard bread, nuts, apples, carrots, and hard candy. Crunchy vegetables can lead to a TMJ flare-up so have them steamed, or made into soups, juices, and smoothies.
  • Chewy Foods – Examples are gum, steak, pizza crusts, and bagels. Candies like Charleston Chews, taffy, caramel, licorice, and gummy bears also strain the jaw joint. An additional reason to avoid them – they get stuck on the biting surfaces of teeth and contribute to decay.
  • Inflammatory Foods – Foods in this category include refined sugars, alcohol, tobacco, salt, and certain oils (like corn oil). Reducing or eliminating these foods can ease overall pain.
  • Salicylates in food – Food containing salicylates are dairy products, hot peppers, and olives. Some people have an allergy or sensitivity to them that causes jaw pain so it is best to avoid them.

Reduce your pain by being mindful

The optimal diet for TMJ places restrictions on patients but this doesn’t mean that they have to limit their food to soups and smoothies.

They can still maintain a healthy diet with these foods.

  • Beans
  • Steamed Vegetables
  • Soft Fruits
  • Yogurt
  • Soft Grains
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • High-Protein Shakes
  • Fish (The Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation throughout the body)
  • Soft Cheeses – like cottage cheese (Eat these in limited quantities as they can cause an inflammatory reaction)

Practical TMJ Treatment – Visit Your Dentist for Less TMJ Pain

The relationship between the teeth, gums, bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments in the head and neck is an intricate one. An issue with one member often leads to pain or discomfort in another.

But with TMJ treatment from my Calgary dentist office, many patients have been able to find relief. We use a neuromuscular or physiologic “alignment first” approach to treat TMJ Disorder. This means no surgery is required to relieve for your TMJ pain issues.

If you suffer from jaw pain and migraines – stop suffering in silence. Come to my Calgary dentist office to discuss TMJ treatment options. Not only will I go over the optimal diet for TMJ with you, we’ll discuss practices you can apply on a daily basis to reduce your pain.

Chronic pain affects many people. But with some assistance from dental and healthcare providers, your pain can often be significantly reduced.

Dr. Curtis Westersund, D.D.S. – dentist Calgary

Have you been dealing with jaw pain or migraines? If so, contact us here at Dentalife right away. We will provide home care recommendations and present you with a number of TMJ treatment options.

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