How Can Diets Wreck Your Jaw?

Losing weight is no easy task – and we applaud those who are working hard to make healthier choices and shed pounds. In addition, having a healthier diet can give you more energy and will help you cope better with pain from temporomandibular disorders (TMD).

Be aware, however, that some healthy choices could actually be making your TMD worse. Many diets advocate eating foods that can be hard on the jaw, which can exacerbate your TMD symptoms and make it difficult to stick with your plan. Whatever diet you choose, watch out for these TMD triggers:

Gum Chewing

It seems like a great solution: you want to enjoy something sweet, but don’t want to dive into the desserts. Instead, you pick up a piece of sugarless gum. After all, sugarless gum is good for your teeth, right?

Unfortunately, this is one of the worst things you can do for your TMJs. Chewing on gum causes jaw pain and irritation for many people by overworking the joint. Many people chew on several pieces of gum a day to try and keep cravings at bay and end up with increased jaw pain as a result.

Mints and Hard Candies

Just like with gum, many people pop mints or hard candies throughout the day to keep them from eating between meals. Although there’s not usually much chewing involved, having a hard candy in your mouth can place your jaw in an awkward position, causing strain on the joint and discomfort. In addition, many candies and mints have sugar, which could cause cavities and dental problems.

Instead of candies or gum, try to get into the habit of sipping water throughout the day. If plain water is too bland, add some fresh fruit or herbs such as mint to give it a flavorful twist without adding a lot of sugar or calories.

Raw, Crunchy Foods

It’s true that many raw foods are good for you. Raw fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, and celery, as well as nuts and seeds, offer big nutritional value and are great choices when you’re trying to lose weight and get healthier.

When you have TMD, however, raw foods like this are not advised. The crunchy textures require a good deal of chewing and can stress the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The good news is, you can still consume plenty of healthy, nutritious foods while being kind to your TMJs. Follow our TMJ-friendly diet, which includes steaming or juicing fruits and vegetables for a softer texture, using the slow cooker to create tender, soft meats and vegetables, and avoiding chewy foods like dried fruits. Using the slow cooker is often quick and easy even for busy people, and preparing a juice or smoothie the night before makes for a simple, nutritious breakfast on the go.

Don’t let jaw pain stand in the way of your healthy efforts. You can lose weight and avoid aggravating your TMD by putting a little extra effort into what you eat each day.

If you have orofacial or jaw pain that is interfering with your life, it’s time to address it and start feeling like yourself again. Contact MedCenter TMJ to schedule your appointment today!

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