If you experience chronic jaw pain, headaches, or a cracking, popping jaw, you may have a TMJ disorder. You have two temporomandibular joints, one on each side of your face, connecting your jaw to your skull. Ideally, your jaw moves from front to back, side to side, and up and down, enabling you to speak, chew, and open your mouth. For someone with a TMJ disorder, these simple tasks become very painful. Dr. Corbet Locke, who treats TMJ pain in Waco, TX, often recommends dietary changes to alleviate pain. Your treatment plan may also include wearing a custom-fitted oral appliance that eases your jaw into the correct position.

Cut Down on Crunchy, Chewy Foods

Biting down on crunchy, hard foods forces your jaw to bear down more heavily than usual. This causes jaw pain whenever you eat, often lasting long after you’ve eaten. Instead of raw vegetables like celery or carrots, enjoy cooked or grilled veggies that have a softer texture. Other crunchy foods to avoid:

  • Popcorn
  • Crackers
  • Hard, crusty breads
  • Thick-cut potato chips
  • Ice (not a food, but should be avoided anyway)

Like any other joint, your TMJ becomes fatigued with overuse. In this case, overuse could result from chewing gum or eating tough cuts of meat, gooey candy, or lobster. Include more soft foods in your diet, such as baked potatoes, bananas, and cooked vegetables. These foods are filling, so you eat less often, and are more easy to chew, sparing your exhausted TMJ.

Pass on Fatty Foods and Large Bites

According to a recent study, consuming a high-fat diet make your body–including your TMJs–more prone to inflammation. This poses serious risks for those who turn to junk food or fast food to cope with stress. Steer clear of saturated fats, such as those found in baked goods, red meat, and cream-based sauces. Instead of consuming dairy products made with whole milk, opt for cheeses and yogurt made with skim or reduced-fat milk. Lean protein, such as fish, chicken, and pork, is preferable to red meat and other fatty cuts.

Sometimes it isn’t so much a matter of what you eat, but rather how much you eat. For someone with a severe TMJ disorder, opening your mouth more than an inch or so causes unbearable pain. If this is the case, try cutting your food into smaller bites. Instead of biting into an apple whole, for example, try slicing it first. When eating a burger or sandwich, remove the top piece of bread for a more manageable meal.

Have you experienced symptoms of TMJ disorders in Waco, TX? To learn more about teeth grinding and TMJs, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Corbet Locke, contact our office at (254) 776-4888. We are pleased to provide advanced dentistry for patients living in Waco, Hewitt, Woodway, McGregor, and the surrounding communities.