Diabetes and Your TMJ

Next month is American Diabetes Awareness Month — a time to recognize those who are living with diabetes and to become aware of this disease and ways to prevent it.

Though diabetes may seem unrelated to a problem like TMD, it is actually closely connected in many ways. If you have TMD, it’s important to be aware of diabetes and the ways in which it can affect the health of your jaw and teeth.

Diabetes, Inflammation, and TMD

Diabetes is an inflammatory disease. Inflammation, in its basic form, is the body’s attempt to heal and defend itself. Short-term inflammation can be helpful after an injury or to recover from illness. However, if inflammation goes on too long, it becomes chronic and can lead to a long list of problems such as heart disease, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and yes, diabetes. Chronic inflammation is often a result of stress and diet, though other factors may also be involved.

Chronic inflammation can affect all areas of the body, including the mouth, gums, and jaw. People with gum disease may find that uncontrolled diabetes can make their condition worse. In severe cases, this can lead to more bleeding, dental problems, and even tooth loss.

TMD also can become more severe in people with diabetes. This is because the inflammation can harm all the body’s joints, including the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The inflammation can cause more pain, swelling, and stiffness, which can become worse every time you eat, chew, talk, and move your jaw. This creates a vicious cycle of more inflammation and pain, and treating TMD becomes a more complex issue.

Eating Healthy for Diabetes and TMD

To further complicate things, diabetes management involves diet changes, and many healthy foods can be hard on the jaw. A dietitian may recommend raw vegetables and fruits, which are full of nutrients that can help combat inflammation and a satisfying crunch.

The problem, however, is that these foods can take their toll on a sore jaw. Raw carrots, celery, apples, and broccoli may be delicious, but they’re not recommended for someone who’s trying to get their TMD under control. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to eat a diet that’s suitable for diabetes and TMD! Keep these rules in mind when you’re planning your diet:

  • Don’t eat vegetables and fruits without cooking them — especially those that are crisp or crunchy. Many vegetables can be steamed or roasted for a delicious flavor without the harmful effects to your TMJ.

  • Use your blender often. If you don’t already have a good blender, now may be the time to invest in one. You can blend fresh fruits and vegetables to make a healthy smoothie that’s soothing to your jaw and anti-inflammatory. This helps tackle diabetes and TMD, and it’s easy and quick.

  • Plan ahead. Get into the habit of making breakfast and lunch the night before so you can have your healthy meals ready to go when you head out the door in the morning. Overnight oats are a recent morning trend, and for good reason: they’re quick and easy, and oatmeal is healthy. It’s also a great choice for a no-crunch breakfast to keep your jaw feeling great in the morning. Packing a healthy smoothie and some soft foods for lunch is a great way to help you avoid the vending machines or fast food restaurants.

Diabetes is just one of the many conditions that can worsen TMD symptoms. Find out how we can help you restore the health of your jaw with a treatment plan that addresses underlying causes of TMD that you may not have considered before. Contact MedCenter TMJ today!

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