Foods That May Aggravate TMJ Pain

People suffering from TMJ know that hard foods like nuts and candy can aggravate joint pain.  Many people strategically avoid hard food in order to reduce pain exacerbated by eating. Sometimes, knowing what food will hurt your jaw is not as intuitive as it seems. Here are a few situations that can increase TMJ pain that many people might not think about, especially when eating out.

Chewing Marathons

When it comes to avoiding certain foods at mealtime, salad seems like a safe alternative to chewey steaks. What people don’t think about is just how long it takes to chew a salad. The leaves alone require a considerable amount of chewing. When you add toppings like bacon bits, grilled chicken, raisins, and radishes, you have more than doubled the amount of chewing required to get through dinner. Instead, try eating steamed or boiled veggies that are soft and require very little chewing. If you prefer your veggies fresh, have some shredded spinach with chopped celery and quinoa as a salad alternative.

Shrink It Down

dreamstime_xs_25560830The quintessential American food, the hamburger, may also aggravate TMJ pain. Overall, the burger patty itself is not terribly difficult to chew. Add tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles, and a bun, and suddenly you have a meal that you need to open wide for. You can size down this meal by replacing the bun with a fork and knife. It may feel weird eating finger food with a fork, but smaller bites will make hamburgers more manageable. Consider also shredding your lettuce and onions if you don’t want to forgo them or compromise by cooking them.

Be Crunch Free

Cereal, the fallback breakfast for many people, may also contribute to TMJ pain during a flare-up. Don’t be fooled by the soggy pieces floating at the bottom of your milk, cereal is not a soft food. Crunching is jarring and can cause more irritation to jaw joints. If you’re looking for a fast breakfast meal, try chopped fruit in yogurt, or oatmeal sweetened with honey as an alternative.

But It Looks so Soft

With its soft looks, it can be difficult to remember that popcorn is actually quite chewy and crunchy. Just like steak, popcorn’s chewiness makes it less than ideal when you need to rest your jaw. When looking for a different sort of snack to sit down to a movie with, consider fruits like raspberries or blueberries, or rip up a soft pretzel into one-bite snacks.

Jamming Reception

As a snack, it may be tempting to spread some jelly on a piece of untoasted bread for a sweet yet soft food. Jams and jellies might seem like a benign condiment, but they may be causing complications with your joint health. These sweet preserves often contain high amounts of salicylates, which will block vitamin K absorption by the body. Vitamin K is important to the health of connective tissues.

Putting off Pie

What could be softer than baked bread topped with melted cheese and chopped up meats or vegetables? Although pizza is a soft food, it does have its drawbacks. Like many breads, pizza is chewy, especially when it comes to eating the crust. Depending on your level of discomfort, you could eat pizza with a knife and fork and simply avoid eating the crust part, but there’s always the risk that the sauce-soggy body of your slice could be chewy enough to hurt your jaw. A similar dish involving wheat, chopped meats and vegetables, and melted cheese to consider is lasagna. With boiled noodles instead of baked bread, lasagna is typically soft instead of chewy.

Choosing foods that are gentle on your jaw does not mean giving up all of your favorite foods. In many cases, simply cutting your food into smaller bites can make a world of difference. Pay attention to which foods have the most impact on your jaw comfort as you eat and avoid those foods during flare-ups. Resting your jaw by adjusting your mealtime routine is a great way to help with TMJ pain.

Although changing your diet is a good short-term solution for TMJ, if pain persists after a week of avoiding aggravating foods, you need help. To learn about getting rid of TMJ, please call 303-759-5652 for an appointment with a Denver cosmetic dentist at Park Meadows Dental Care.