I first knew I had TMJ problems when I talked with my dentist about my terrible jaw pain. It never seemed to go away. We talked about trying some things, but I never moved forward with any of them. I have good days and bad days. When it’s bad, I can’t even eat. It’s far worse in the morning.
I was talking to a family friend and she was telling me it could be diet related. She recommended a whole foods diet. I just got started with it, but nothing has changed so far. Does diet impact TMJ disorder? Or should I keep seeing the TMJ dentist for treatment?
-Wendy in North Carolina
It’s true that eating well will help improve your health and how you feel. However, there are some misconceptions out there as to what a whole foods diet can improve. Generally, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems are not tied to your diet. The pain is from sore muscles, an injury, strain or the ligaments and nerves being inflamed. There are many different causes and until it is pinpointed, it can be difficult to treat.
Eating certain whole foods may actually bother your TMJ more than others. For example, crunchy raw apples or carrots may further aggravate your jaw. So, even though “diet” isn’t linked to TMJ, certain foods can trigger issues for you. Other culprits tend to be almonds, seeds or breads with nuts. Also, overly chewy foods and gum can also bother the joint.
Even though it sounds difficult to do, giving your jaw some rest is helpful. Also, taking Ibuprofen or other over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory medication will help with the inflammation.
Thank your friend for her advice and opinion, then you should probably continue seeing a TMJ specialist. The whole foods approach isn’t going to take care of this problem. Especially, since you mention your pain is worse in the morning. This symptom could indicate that you are grinding or clenching your teeth at night and you may not be aware of it. A TMJ dentist could create a mouth guard that you wear overnight while you sleep. It will help protect your teeth and alleviate the pressure that is bothering your jaw.
Hopefully, trying some of the tips will help improve your pain and discomfort. But, it sounds like it’s time to continue seeking professional treatment. Best of luck!
This post is sponsored by a cosmetic dentist in Barrington, James T. Gavrilos, DDS.