If you suffer from TMJ disorder, you are probably already getting treatment from a dentist to reduce pain and prevent further damage to your joints. Treatments from medical professionals are imperative, since untreated TMJ generally worsens over time. But medical professionals aren’t the only ones who can help reduce the pain caused by TMJ: you have the power to supplement your treatments with lifestyle choices that will help with pain management.
At-Home TMJ Treatments Can Help
A typical TMJ self-management program’s goal is to allow the treatments you’re receiving at the dentist’s office to do their healing work. By following such a program, you prevent your behaviors at home from compromising the effectiveness of your treatments.
This kind of program includes exercise and massage, and identifying pain triggers so that they can be avoided. It also includes nutrition. The food and drink you consume can play a big role in your TMJ pain — you’re the one who gets to decide whether that role is going to be positive or negative.
How Does Food Impact TMJ?
There are two main ways that the foods you eat can impact your TMJ experience.
The first may sound pretty obvious, but it’s still important to keep in mind: the texture of the food you eat may put stress on your jaw and trigger pain. Crunchy foods or sticky foods require more work from the jaw to chew, which can cause jaw pain. If you’re a chewing gum addict, or you love steak, or you eat a bagel every morning, it may be hard to give up the habit. But by eliminating or reducing these high-impact foods, you can make mealtime easier on your jaw, and lessen the likelihood of post-meal pain.
And second, the actual nutritional content of that food can affect how well your body deals with the effects of TMJ. For example, some foods are inflammatory, and can cause joint pain. Sugars, salt, alcohol, MSG, and some cooking oils are all examples of inflammatory foods. Instead, try anti-inflammatory foods like fish, whole grains, and dark, leafy greens. Similarly, any foods that are good for joint health are good for your TMJ symptoms. Look for foods with high vitamin C and E content, and foods that contain magnesium. Extra virgin olive oil, fatty fish, and cherries are all anti-inflammatory foods.
Can Diet Cure TMJ?
Unfortunately, regulating your diet isn’t enough to cure your TMJ. At-home treatments are an important part of TMJ treatment, but they can’t do the job on their own. It’s absolutely imperative that you see an experienced TMJ dentist to treat your TMJ and prevent it from worsening.
Speak to your dentist if you’re interested in putting together a TMJ self-management plan. Your dentist can help you determine the best treatments you can perform at home to help along the treatments you’re receiving at the dentist’s office. Together, you and your dentist can ensure that your TMJ treatment plan is as effective as possible. Call (303) 691-0267 or contact us online today to make an appointment with Denver TMJ dentist Dr. Kevin Berry at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.