As the weather heats up, many people enjoy summertime activities and get-togethers. If you have a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), changes in weather can affect your symptoms, and you’ll want to be aware of foods, drinks and activities that can help – or hurt – your jaw joint.
Here are some great ways you can avoid summertime TMD triggers, make the most of this warm weather, and keep your jaw joint healthy and happy.
Barbecues, Summertime Foods, and Jaw Pain
Some of the most well-known summer foods can also take their toll on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), especially if it’s already irritated or inflamed. If you’re trying to get your TMD under control, you may need to avoid hard and chewy foods such as grilled steaks and meats, grilled kabobs and corn on the cob. Most of the time, these foods require a lot of chewing or opening of the mouth, and therefore stress the jaw.
Instead, remove corn from the cob with a knife before eating, and enjoy slow-cooked barbecue meats that are soft and tender instead of those that are grilled. Enjoy fresh fruits that are soft, such as the wide variety of melon and berries that are sweet and delicious this time of year. Skip the extra crisp apples and raw, crunchy veggies such as carrots. Instead, eat them cooked or in cool summertime smoothies for a boost of energy and nutrients.
Drinks and your TMJ
Although drinks themselves won’t necessarily irritate the jaw, you should still carefully consider your beverages this summer for a number of reasons.
Staying well-hydrated is essential for all your body’s systems, including your joints – and when the mercury rises, it’s easy to get dehydrated. For this reason, you should make sure you drink plenty of water every day, and consider adding fresh fruit or herbs for a refreshing change of pace.
Caffeine is not your friend when you have TMD. Not only can it make stress and anxiety worse in some people, but it can increase tension and cause you to grind more. You may notice more TMJ pain or worsening TMD symptoms if you overdo it on caffeinated drinks. Many of these beverages such as soda and energy drinks are loaded with sugar too, which isn’t doing your teeth – or your general health – any favors. And, because caffeine is a diuretic, it encourages fluid loss – something you don’t need when you’re out in the heat.
The Summer Heat Can Help Your Jaw
Think about how you feel when you’re cold. Your muscles tense up and you shiver. But the heat can have the opposite effect, feeling soothing and relaxing. No wonder heating pads and warm baths are great for sore muscles! Take advantage of the warm weather’s natural muscle-relaxing effects with fun and healthy outdoor activities like walking, biking, and swimming. And, a summer vacation may help you reduce stress levels: another key to good TMD management.
Are you living with TMJ pain and don’t know where to turn? Contact MedCenter TMJ to learn how we can help!