Written by: on October 26, 2014 @ 7:52 pm

Attractive woman with foods to help TMJ painThey don’t get as much attention as other joints like the knees, hips, and shoulders, but your TMJs, the small joints on either side of your jaw that control the movement of your mouth, can become easily strained, overused, and painful. This phenomenon, known as TMJ disorder, affects an estimated 10 million or more Americans, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Treating TMJ disorder can take many forms, from specialized exercises, over-the-counter pain relievers, and special mouthpieces called splints, just to name a few. While TMJ should always be treated under the supervision of a dental or medical professional, taking certain steps at home, such as modifying your diet, can greatly reduce the strain placed on the TMJs and thus reduce TMJ-related pain.

Eliminate or Reduce Parafunctional Chewing

Parafunctional chewing is a technical way of referring to chewing habits that do not have to do with consuming the food you need to live. Some examples include chewing gum, chewing on pens or pencils, and crunching on ice. These habits place unnecessary strain on the TMJs and, as a result, eliminating or greatly reducing the frequency of these habits can help ease the tension in the jaw joints. Sucking on sugarless mints (as long as you can mindfully avoid crunching them) provides satisfaction and improves your breath without the rapid-fire chewing action of gum.

Opt for Softer Foods

People hear “soft foods” and immediately think of either baby food or the bland fare you might be served in a nursing home for the elderly. In fact, choosing softer foods that place less strain on your jaws can be simple and flavorful. For example, instead of eating steak (which can be quite tough and chewy if you purchase lean cuts of cook it past medium rare), opt for ground sirloin. Start your day with an omelet or a bowl of oatmeal cooked with dried cranberries or raisins instead of a hard, chewy bagel.

Incorporate These Essential Nutrients

Although there haven’t been any large scale clinical studies on the subject, smaller studies and a wealth of patient-reported experiences suggest that incorporating more magnesium-rich foods into your diet can ease the pain associated with TMJ disorder. Try incorporating some of the following foods into your diet:

  • Dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, or chard. Salad made using pre-packaged mixed baby greens are an easy way to get your magnesium every day.
  • Nuts are a great source of magnesium, although to eliminate excessive chewing, you may want to opt for nut butters like peanut butter, cashew butter, or almond butter.
  • Fish is gentle on the jaws and provides a wealth of nutrient, including magnesium.
  • Avocados and bananas are easy to eat, delicious, and are excellent sources of magnesium.

About Your Farmington Hills Dentist:

To learn more, or to schedule an appointment with one of the experts at Comfort Dental Spa, contact our office at (248) 474-6434. Dr. Aziza Askari and our team welcome patients living in and around Farmington Hills, Livonia, Novi, Northville, Westland, and Dearborn Heights.


Catogories: Jaw Health, TMD, TMJ Headaches/Migraines

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