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TMJ and the Foods You Should Eat or Avoid

TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) is a common chronic condition that affects the jaw. People with TMJ have a variety of symptoms, including ear pain, headaches, loud popping or cracking noises when chewing or yawning, and limited jaw movement. Eating can be a real agony for someone that suffers from TMJ. Because eating can be so uncomfortable, individuals that suffer from TMJ need to make sure they're getting the nutrition they need.

What Effect Does Food Have on TMJ?

TMJ can make it difficult to consume a nutritious meal, which is essential for good health. That’s why you must practice eating right to avoid flare-ups. Take your time when preparing meals. TMJ patients should change their diet to avoid things that aggravate the condition more. Here are some TMJ diet foods to incorporate, as well as foods you should avoid.

Foods You Must Avoid

Crunchy Foods

If you have TMJ, stay away from crunchy foods like chips and popcorn. Avoid hard bread and hard vegetables like crisp celery and carrots because intensity force is needed to chew them. Fruits and vegetables should be included in the diet since the flavonoid in them can act as a natural anti-inflammatory.

Chewy Foods

Chewy foods, such as caramel, chewing gum, tough cuts of meat, taffy, and escargot, require heavy and constant jaw motion, which can worsen TMJ pain. To avoid further damage, eat softer foods like yogurt, bananas, fish, poultry, and mashed potatoes.

Fatty Foods

Studies have shown that the fat content in some foods may cause increased inflammation in your body. To relieve TMJ pain, avoid red meat, pastries, fried foods, and cream sauces. Choose low-fat milk, chicken, pork, low-fat cheese, yogurt, fish, etc. above any fatty foods.

Large Pieces of Food

TMJ is painful, and it might be difficult to open the mouth more than a few inches in some cases. Biting down on a huge chunk of food, especially while eating thick sandwiches, large portions of fruit, or large chunks of any other food, can cause your jaw to become overworked. Snacking on smaller pieces is the best solution.

Symptoms that Get Worse when you Don't Avoid These Foods

  • Headaches
  • Jaw Pain and jaw muscle pain
  • Clicking/Popping in Jaw Joints
  • Difficulty Chewing
  • Inability to Bite All the Way Down
  • Limited Mouth Opening or pain while yawning
  • Earaches
  • Uncomfortable bite
  • Changing Bite
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Worn Down Teeth
  • Neck Pain

Foods to Incorporate

Fluids

During TMJ, fresh fruit juices, vegetable or chicken soup, broth, milk, and other foods should be consumed. To recuperate, the jaw must be given enough time to rest. A well-balanced liquid diet will not only assist you to accomplish this but will also provide you with the nutrition you need to keep going.

Soft Foods

A soft diet consisting of scrambled eggs, yogurt, fruits, quinoa, and well-cooked vegetables would increase nutrition while also providing relief from TMJ pain. Soft-cooked meals such as fish sticks, meatballs, chicken, tuna, green beans, lentils, kale, squash, and spinach are also appropriate. While a soft food diet will not be a permanent solution, it will help to relax the jaw muscles and speed up the healing process.

Anti-Inflammatory Food

Add a lot of anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to help with TMJ pain. Coldwater fish such as salmon and mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have antioxidant characteristics. TMJ inflammation can be reduced by eating these fish. Anti-inflammatory foods include berries, broccoli, and pepper. Garlic and onion should also be included in your everyday cooking and salads.

Foods Rich in Magnesium

Magnesium is effective at relaxing the nervous system, which is beneficial to persons who suffer from TMJ. Nuts, lentils, dark leafy greens, beans, dried fruits, avocados, low-fat dairy products, and other magnesium-rich foods can help relax the jaw muscles.

Calcium-Rich Foods

Studies have reported that calcium helps in reducing TMJ, just like magnesium. Calcium can be found in unpolished rice, raw milk, spinach, green peas, cabbage, sesame, oranges, banana, wheat flour with husk, coconut, almond, groundnut, and other foods.

Other Nutritional Supplements

Vitamin B can be used to reduce stress levels, which can help with TMJ pain. Its deficiency can be remedied by taking Vitamin B-Complex tablets/capsules as prescribed for a few days.

How to Eat When the Pain Flares Up

Increase your fluid intake, such as soups, stews, and smoothies, to reduce the pain radiating from your TMJ. To reduce the opening of the jaw when eating solid foods, take small bites, chew slowly, use sauces or gravies to soften the food, peel fruits and vegetables before eating them, and chop the whole foods into bite-size pieces.

Listen to your body when it comes to choosing the correct diet. If you're feeling tired, you might need to increase your caloric intake. Ask your doctor if you need to take any supplements to ensure you're getting all of the nutrients your body requires. To loosen muscles, use moist heat before eating. If your jaw feels tired while you're eating, take a break, reapply heat, and try again if you're still hungry.

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