TMJ, also known as Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, is chronic pain in the jaw and face area due to limited movement of the jaw joint and the muscles surrounding it. Pain from TMJ can occur in the jaw, face, and head, and symptoms range from clicking, joint locking, muscle spasms, tenderness, headaches, and difficulty chewing. Although treatment is available for those who suffer from TMJ, research shows that there are foods to avoid if you have TMJ, and simply changing your diet can help eliminate quite a bit of pain. We have compiled a list of foods to avoid if you have TMJ in hopes to help you alleviate some of that excruciating joint pain!
Who doesn’t love a good crunch in their food? I know I do, but if you suffer from TMJ you are going to want to avoid any food that is too crunchy. Foods like chips, popcorn, hard vegetables, and even crispy breads are all going to cause an extreme amount of pain for those who suffer from TMJ. The intensity of the bite and chew it takes to break down these foods are what cause pain in the jaw area, and swelling of the muscles surrounding it. Avoiding extremely crunchy food is crucial because they cause too much stress on the joint which will ultimately cause a TMJ flare-up, leaving you in an uncomfortable amount of pain. Once this kind of damage is caused to the jaw joint, it is going to require a longer healing time than it would had you chosen to eliminate crunchy foods from your diet altogether.
For those of you with a sweet tooth or a love for tougher meats like steak, this is going to be a tough one. Excluding chewy foods from your diet is very important if you suffer from TMJ because in order to break these foods down, your jaw has to work in overtime. The constant, quick movement of the chewing motion can be tough on the jaw which will aggravate the joint where the pain comes from. Examples of chewy foods to avoid if you have TMJ:
Fatty foods have been found to cause inflammation within the body, therefore avoiding foods with high fat will help decrease tenderness in the jaw and face area. Foods that tend to be higher in fat are red meats, fried food, milk based products, pastries, cookies, cakes, and anything with a significant amount of margarine or butter in it. These foods to avoid if you have TMJ may seem impossible to completely rid from your diet, but anything in moderation is doable. By reducing these fatty foods from your day-to-day eating habits, you will ultimately decrease the amount of inflammation in the jaw and face area, eliminating much of the pain caused by TMJ. The less inflammation your body has, the less tension and pressure will be put on the jaw joint.
Aside from watching what you eat, it is also important to be cautious of the size of the food in which you intake. The smaller the bites, the easier it will be for you to chew and the less work your jaw has to do. It is nearly impossible to avoid all of these foods all of the time, therefore if you are eating food that may be an irritation, take the time to cut it into smaller bites so that there is less tension and aggravation on the jaw. The motion of opening your mouth wide to fit in a large piece of food can cause popping and grinding within the jaw and ultimately lead to an extreme amount of pain. It is important to remember that the pain associated with TMJ is not just associated with chewing food, but with all jaw movement as well. In order to eliminate as much pain as possible associated with TMJ you must be extremely cautious with what foods you eat. Foods to avoid if you have TMJ range from different food groups, but by limiting yourself you can help to self-treat your TMJ.
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