Eating Habits and Lifestyle Changes Can Help TMJ
Left untreated, TMJ can cause a tremendous amount of pain and discomfort, and severely impact one’s quality of life. Individuals who suffer from TMJ Disorder are often burdened by debilitating symptoms such as chronic jaw pain, migraines, back pain, facial pain, and difficulty chewing or speaking.
Experts estimate that approximately 10-15% of Americans suffer from TMD, but the good news is that, while painful at times, TMJ symptoms can be managed and patients can live free of discomfort and enjoy a good quality of life. However, this usually means making some adjustments to one’s lifestyle and eating habits.
At my dental practice in Lansing, we specialize in treating TMJ Disorder and provide ongoing coaching to help our patients learn how to take good care of their jaw joints and oral health. Below, I’ve shared some tips on how to manage TMD symptoms with diet and lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle Changes that Can Protect Your TMJ Health
Believe it or not, there are some very simple and easy changes you can make to manage your TMJ symptoms. As your jaw joints begin to heal and recover, it’s important that you continue to live a lifestyle which is conducive to good TMJ health. Making these changes can not only help reduce your discomfort, but also prevent symptoms from returning in the future:
● Anxiety and stress reduction: Stress and anxiety add fuel to the fire. Often, they prolong and exacerbate TMJ symptoms like headaches, teeth grinding, and sleeplessness, making recovery difficult. When I have a patient that is suffering from TMD, I always encourage them to participate in activities that are known for reducing stress and anxiety like meditation, yoga, cardiovascular exercise and avoid actions that could worsen the situation like consuming too much caffeine or sugar.
● Ditching bad habits: It’s important to refrain from any bad habits that could put unnecessary stress on your jaw joints and negatively impact your TMJ health. This includes habits like biting your nails, chewing the ice in your beverages, and gnawing on pen caps. Patients may also be in the habit of taking painkillers to cope with their symptoms. However, once pain and symptoms subside, this should be avoided to prevent interference with the body’s natural healing processes.
● Practicing good posture: Slouching and other bad habits that negatively affect your posture should be avoided. Bad posture can put pressure on your TMJs and cause symptoms to return. Make sure that you’re practicing good posture while sitting, standing, and performing everyday tasks. Additionally, sleeping on your back is better for your posture and, therefore, more conducive to good TMJ health.
Eating Habits that Promote Good TMJ Health
As you recover from TMD, you may find that some of the dietary and eating habits you once had no longer align with your new health goals. As they heal, your TMJs are in a vulnerable state. It’s important to consider how certain foods may impact your jaw joints and chewing muscles. I always advise patients to avoid hard, crunchy foods, no matter how much they may enjoy them.
This may mean that you need to set aside additional time to plan out your meals and prepare your food, but it will be worth it! Try to think of your situation as an opportunity to discover new foods and meals that may end up becoming some of your favorites.
As a general rule of thumb, soft foods are better for healing jaw joints. Try to avoid eating foods that are very chewy, tough, or have a crisp, crunchy texture.
Here are some suggestions for a soft food diet:
● Scrambled eggs
● Soft fruit
● Cooked veggies
● Soft meats and cheeses
● Sandwiches made on untoasted white bread
● Fish or sushi
● Burrito bowls with cooked veggies
● Canned tuna or chicken, sliced deli meat, or other soft forms of protein
● Fruit or vegetable smoothies
● Apple sauce
● Cottage cheese
● Tender meats like shredded chicken, pot roast, or pulled pork
● Beef stew (well-cooked)
● Shepherd pie
● Cooked beans
● Sauteed veggies
● Mashed potatoes
● White rice
● Sweet potatoes
● Baked squash
Make sure that you get plenty of protein during the day! Proteins are important for the healing and repair process. Additionally, eating anti-inflammatory foods may help reduce some of the pain.
Schedule Your TMJ Health Evaluation Today
If you’re suffering from TMD symptoms like teeth grinding, jaw pain, facial pain, migraines, and/or limited jaw movement, I urge you to contact my office. Bechtel Dentistry welcomes TMJ patients living in Lansing, Holt, Okemos, Mason, Grand Ledge, Dewitt, Haslett, Williamston, St. Johns, Charlotte, Eaton Rapids, East Lansing, and Potterville. Contact our office today at 517-882-7132 to schedule your holistic dental service and start your journey to better wellness. We strive to provide the highest level of care with our incredible holistic approach for the comprehensive treatment you need. We’re looking forward to working with you!