Fourth of July Cookout Tips That Won’t Hurt Your TMJ

Every holiday has its own traditional fare that we eat at celebrations, and the Fourth of July is no exception. Cookouts with grilled meats, corn on the cob, cold salads, and colorful fruit often fill the

tables at barbecues and parties across the country.

But when you have a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), even these favorite, all-American foods can cause pain or become a source of stress. Fortunately, there are some ways to make accommodations for your jaw and still enjoy many of the treats you’ve always eaten on Independence Day.

Modifying Fourth of July Foods for Your Jaw

Love corn on the cob? Most people do. But biting into a cob can stress a TMJ that’s already irritated or inflamed. Instead of eating it right off the cob, use a knife to carefully shave the corn off and eat it with a fork. The corn will come off in large chunks that can be broken up to a size that’s comfortable for you. All the fresh corn taste is still there!

A piled-high hamburger is juicy and delicious – but a sore jaw won’t appreciate the stretching you have to do just to take a bite. Instead, opt for a thinner burger patty combined with a slim, low-profile bun. Add lettuce, tomato, pickles, and your favorite sauce and you’ve got a delicious burger that won’t come back to haunt you later with jaw pain.

Hot dogs can be too tough and chewy if they’re overcooked, and some are made with a skin that’s harder to eat. Check out skinless hot dogsinstead, and avoid cooking them until they’re charred.

Don’t forget your vegetables! But rather than a salad full of raw, hard veggies, grill them! Grilled veggies are delicious and softer and easier on the jaw than raw veggies, and they can be used a number of ways, as kebabs or just alone as a side dish, they’re so tasty that you won’t feel like you’re eating “health food.”

Many summertime fruits are perfect for barbecues and easy on the jaw, such as watermelon and berries. But for harder, crispier fruits like apples and pineapple, grill them. Cooking them brings out the flavor and makes them softer.

Stay Hydrated for Holidays and All Summer

Whatever you decide to eat this Fourth of July, remember another important tip to keep TMD symptoms under control: stay hydrated. Dehydration can aggravate headaches and muscle and joint pain, and even worse, you can end up with heat exhaustion if you don’t drink enough. If you aren’t interested in plain water, try infusing it with fruit, vegetables, and herbs. Many people enjoy lemon, watermelon, cucumber, and mint in their water.

Limit caffeine such as sodas, coffee, and tea, and go easy on alcoholic drinks. These choices won’t keep you hydrated and can make TMD symptoms worse.

You can enjoy this Independence Day even with TMD. And if you find that your symptoms interfere with your life, it’s time to contact MedCenter TMJ. We’ll work with you to determine the cause of your TMD and ways to manage it so you can get back to living your life.

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