Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is causing you pain and you don’t know what to do. Perhaps you were told by your dentist that there is not much that can be done…
Did you know that your diet could be aggravating your TMJ disorder? The good news is that a simple change in diet can work wonders in speeding up your recovery.
For those who need a refresher, your temporomandibular joint is the part of your skull that connects to your lower jaw. According to the NIDCR, between 5 to 12 percent of the US population has this disorder, which has the following symptoms:
- Pain in the jaw
- Pain around the TMJ on one or both sides of the head
- Headaches or earaches
- Facial pain
- Difficulty chewing
- A popping or clicking sound when opening one’s mouth
Some dentists use Botox to treat temporomandibular disorder (TMD). According to StantonSmiles.com, a dental office, “Botox is a neuroparalyzer that is used to relax or soften the function of muscles, usually the facial muscles of expression.” Botox injections can serve as a muscle relaxant, which can help alleviate the pain.
But what other alternatives do TMJ sufferers have when looking for a speedy resolution to their pain?
A change in diet for faster healing
There are various aspects of one’s diet that you can change to help speed your recovery and alleviate pain.
First, consider moving toward softer foods. Softer foods place less strain and stress on the jaw and are easier to chew. The less the jaw needs to work, the more jaw muscles can rest and heal. This entails a soft diet approach. A soft diet is one where you choose foods based on their softness and avoid foods that are too hard or that would require aggressive chewing.
Soft foods include:
- Hamburger meat
- Well-cooked vegetables
Hard foods to avoid include
- Corn on the cob
- Meats that require a lot of chewing
Worried about not getting enough nutrition on a soft food diet? Blend up your salad into a green smoothie! Does this mean you must forgo that lovely steak? If you really can’t resist a steak craving, cut up your steak in very, very small pieces that will allow you to eat it with minimal chewing.
The point is that the more you allow your jaw to rest, the more it can heal. And once the pain is gone, you can go back to a regular healthy diet.
A second dietary approach is to avoid foods that could aggravate the inflammation in your jaw. Inflammatory foods include foods high in sugars, oils, and fats. These are foods you know you should not be eating in the first place. Replace with soft foods that fight inflammation. For example, tomatoes and fish.
The last diet-related tip that will help you move toward recovery includes foods that promote joint health. Fatty fish contains omega-3 oils that reduce symptoms associated with joint pain. Ginger is effective in fighting against inflammation in one’s joints. And bone broth is rich in acids that promote joint health. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are shown to protect joint health. Because these veggie options are a bit chewy, you might want to consider mashing them into a paste or a smoothie.
Other natural methods to consider
Always slouching? Have a bad case of text neck? Did you know that poor posture could be contributing to your TMJ pain? Your posture might be the cause of the pain you are feeling in your jaw.
To fix posture problems, make sure that your laptop and work station promotes good posture. Mentally check yourself throughout the day. If you find yourself hunching forward, thrust your shoulders back for the count of 10. Additionally, try exercises to improve back and core muscles. A change of pillows can also help fix posture-related TMJ pain.
Stress is often cited as a possible cause for TMJ, so activities that help reduce stress levels are also important. Focus on keeping a good balance in life. Avoid situations that can cause you to risk losing sleep or make unhealthy diet choices. Exercise is also a great way to keep stress in check, as well as being good for you in plenty of other ways.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia