If you are living with temporomandibular joint disorder, you likely already know that a few things can aggravate your condition and cause painful symptoms. For many people, these things include stress, chewing gum and poor posture. But did you know that your diet may also contribute to your jaw pain and discomfort? And that some food can help reduce TMJD pain?
Does Diet Really Matter for TMJD?
Yes! A big part of living with TMJD is inflammation, which is the body’s natural defense system designed to fight illness-causing germs and help to heal you after injuries. Sounds great, right? While inflammation for short periods is an excellent thing to help keep you healthy, long periods of inflammation can be damaging – and leave you uncomfortable.
What Causes Inflammation?
When talking about TMJD, inflammation develops as a result of wear and tear on the jaw joints. This wear and tear can negatively impact the muscles around your jaw joints, too. When inflammation occurs, it can cause swelling around your jaw joints and make things stiff and painful.
But, the largest source of inflammation related to TMJD is caused by poor jaw alignment. When the jaw is out of place, your neck and jaw become overworked. When this happens, lactic acid builds up in your muscles, increasing your pain and inflammation.
If you’re undergoing treatment for TMJD, you’re probably taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen. You should also be drinking a lot of water – at least half your body weight in ounces – to flush out the inflammation.
Foods That Fight Inflammation
In addition to taking anti-inflammatories and drinking water, eating a healthy diet can help, too. These foods have been found to reduce inflammation:
- Whole grains
- Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale and arugula
- Olives and olive oil
- Fruit, especially blueberries and citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits
- Fatty fish, such as tuna, mackerel and salmon
These foods are excellent inflammation fighters because they are high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols – all nutrients than can help to reduce inflammation.
Try to work these inflammation-fighting foods into your diet several times a week.
Foods That Contribute to Inflammation
On the other end of the spectrum, there are some foods that trigger inflammation, too. You can help reduce inflammation levels in the jaw by avoiding these foods:
- Foods high in sugar
- Fast food
- Fried food
- Sodas and other soft drinks
- Drinks that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea and energy drinks
- Processed and packaged foods
- Foods high in sodium
- Red meat and processed meat
These foods can increase levels of inflammation around your jaw joints – and can also contribute to your risk of heart attack, diabetes, stroke and other serious health conditions.
Want to learn more about treating inflammation caused by TMJD? Call Dr. Ron Konig in Houston, Texas, at 713-668-2289 to schedule a consultation.