Eating can be quite a pleasurable experience. Besides providing nourishment, food can also bring you joy and satisfaction. Imagine feasting on culinary wonders that have a perfect blend of flavor and texture.
Sadly, some people don’t experience the same feeling. In fact, some cringe and feel shocking pain when they chew on food because they have a TMJ disorder. As we meet people seeking TMJ pain relief, we become familiar with the fact that most of them can’t enjoy eating because of their disorder.
They tell us about their horror stories and how frustrated and desperate they feel. We are also no stranger to answering questions like “Is it possible to get rid of TMJ pain?” and “How can you enjoy eating when you get diagnosed with TMJ disorder?”
Join us in the discussion below to understand why TMJ pain hurts when you eat and how you can cope.
TMJ Pain – What It Is and How it Can Affect You
TMD or temporomandibular joint disorders are common complaints of patients. TMJ disorder also remains one of the leading causes of pain and debilitation, affecting a broad spectrum of ages. The latest numbers say that about 12 percent of American adults have it.
However, some resources note that there may be thousands to millions of unreported causes because of the substantial similarities of TMJ pain with other dental problems. Besides the searing jaw pain, here are the other hallmark TMD symptoms that health practitioners use for diagnosis:
- Facial pain
- Difficulty moving the mouth
- Jaw locking
- Pain in and around the ears
- Jaw muscle tenderness
- Hearing a clicking sound when you move the jaw
It’s crucial to get diagnosed by your doctor or dentist as soon as possible if you suspect having a TMJ disorder. This way, you can manage some of the TMJ pain triggers, such as chewing food.
How You Can Enjoy Food When You Have TMD
Many patients looking for TMJ pain relief note that they feel agonizing jaw aches when they chew food. That’s because TMD comes hand in hand with sore and tight jaw muscles. As you grind your teeth to process chewy food products like meat, your swollen jaw suffers the impact. Consequently, you experience shocking bolts of pain that can also spread to your face and ears.
Notably, not all food products trigger this response. According to some studies and patient stories, here are examples of food products that cause their flare-ups:
Avoid These Foods
Crunchy, crisp, or chewy food
Do you frequently have chips, popcorns, celery, carrots, and beef jerky for a snack? Do you love feasting on steak, turkey legs and other types of stringy meat?
If yes, know that these may be contributing to the problem. We recommend steering free from crisp or crunchy food in the meantime and switching to soft products to avoid straining your jaws. Some examples of these items you can include in your diet are:
- Soft fruits – Bananas, avocado, strawberries, blueberries, and applesauce
- Peeled or boiled veggies – Boiled or roasted butternut squash, asparagus, shredded carrots, and peas
- Soft sources of protein – Eggs, legumes, chicken, eggs, and fish
- Dairy products – Cottage cheese, yogurt, ice cream, pudding, and kefir
- Grains and starches – Mashed potatoes, polenta grains, couscous, pasta, oatmeal, and muffins
The last thing you would want is to stimulate an inflammatory response in your body. It will only affect your journey towards achieving lasting TMJ pain relief. This means that you have to shy away from fatty food products.
A study explains that eating excessive amounts of fat-laden food like French fries, pan-fried pizza, red meat, and cream-based sauces can cause inflammation in various body parts, including the jaw muscles and joints.
Instead of grabbing your usual go-to fat-rich food products, we strongly recommend eating low-fat products like yogurt, steamed fish, chicken, and low-fat milk.
Large or chunky food
When you have TMD, you should always aim to minimize the impact on your TMJ. So, besides steering clear from fatty and hard to chew food, we strongly advise against biting on large chunks of food like a three-decker clubhouse sandwich or whole fruits. Cut or slice your food in smaller portions, so you don’t have to force your mouth to open wide and lessen chewing time.
TMJ Pain Relief with Upper Cervical Care
Hopefully, our list of food products to eat and avoid will help you manage your TMD flare-ups better. However, if that doesn’t work, or you want to finally tap into an option for TMJ pain relief that shows promising results, we recommend trying upper cervical chiropractic care.
Patients who used to have a hard time because of TMJ pain have experienced significant changes in their lives after seeking the help of their upper cervical doctor. That’s because upper cervical chiropractic aims to restore balance in the spine, a commonly overlooked trigger of TMJ disorders.
If you review your neck’s anatomy, you will see that your bones lay close to the jawbone. Furthermore, the neck supports the nerves in charge of supplying sensation to the facial muscles that work hand in hand in moving your jaws.
With the help of an upper cervical chiropractor, you can potentially experience TMJ pain relief because the neck adjustments can help ease muscle tension in your jaws. Furthermore, upper cervical care comes in handy in alleviating pressure on impinged nerves or the brainstem, which may be contributing to your TMJ pain.
We recommend scheduling your first consultation with a TMJ chiropractor near you after you get diagnosed with TMD. This way, you can have your neck checked and adjusted accordingly. Find a nearby upper cervical chiropractic practice today!