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How Food Impacts Your Jaw Pain

Posted on 1/17/2017 by Doctor Haigney
A man suffering from TMD jaw pain.
Food is an important part of life. It's what sustains us, gives us energy and keeps us healthy. However, if you suffer from temporomandibular disorder (TMD), the resulting pain can make it difficult to eat, making it hard for you to get the essential nutrients you need to thrive. Some foods, however, are more likely to cause issues than others.

Temporomandibular Disorder

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge that connects your upper and lower jaw. It is responsible for your ability to open and close your mouth, eat and speak. It also allows you to move your lower jaw from side to side. Pain in this joint, and your jaw, is known as temporomandibular disorder (TMD), and it can greatly affect your ability to perform these functions.

Symptoms of TMD include:

•  Difficulty/pain opening the mouth.
•  Pain while chewing.
•  Clicking and popping while chewing.
•  Your jaw may lock open or closed.
•  Pain in the face.
•  Headaches and/or earaches.

There are several different causes for TMD – osteoarthritis, bruxism from stress, poor posture, misaligned jaw. When the exact cause has been found, treatment can begin, which can alleviate the pain. Eating certain foods, however, can negate treatment, causing your TMJ pain to flare up once again.

What Foods Aggravate TMD?

If you suffer from TMD, you should avoid eating foods that are especially hard and crunchy. This is because these foods require extra bite force to chew – whole apples, crusty bread, chips, corn on the cob, hard candies raw vegetables. You should also stay away from chewy foods, as they require extra chewing that can further irritate the joint – chewing gum, gummies, caramels. Also, avoid eating anything that requires you to open your mouth wide – large burgers or sandwiches.

What Can You Eat?
You may be wondering what you can eat, especially if a lot of your favorite foods are listed as things to avoid. There is still plenty to eat. You should opt for softer foods, or alter the foods you might otherwise need to avoid. For instance, instead of a whole apple, cut it into more manageable slices.

Take corn off the cob. Make smaller sandwiches, or break them up into more manageable pieces. Cook vegetables instead of eating them raw, steaming or baking them to preserve their nutrients.

Speaking of nutrients, the texture of your food isn't the only thing that is important. The quality is just as important. Eating more foods that can help fight against inflammation, such as those that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, and dark leafy greens, as well as increasing your intake of foods that contribute to joint health - those that contain vitamins C, E and B, magnesium, selenium and zinc.

Food can have a significant impact on your TMJ pain, but altering your diet can help. If you are still experiencing pain, however, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

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9727 Northcross Center Ct
Huntersville, NC 28078
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