We don’t often think about it, but eating involves coordinated jaw function to chew and shred food, so that salivary enzymes can effectively start the process of digestion.
The process is thwarted if you are unable to chew certain foods because you suffer from chronic jaw pain and dysfunction. Millions of people suffer from jaw joint problems - temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). It’s not just the chronic pain and discomfort TMD can cause that’s a real issue—it may also be preventing you from eating foods that are healthy for you.
Because TMD can make it difficult to open wide and bite down, you may decide to skip otherwise healthy foods because they are too difficult to eat. That however, could lead to lack of proper nutrition in the long run.
But with a few techniques and modifications, you can still include many of these foods in your diet even when TMD discomfort flares up. Be sure to cut all your food portions into small, bite-sized pieces. These should be small enough to limit the amount of jaw opening required to comfortably place the bite in your mouth. Peeling fruits and vegetables removes the skin which is often hard to chew.
You should also try cooking crisper fruits and vegetables to a soft texture. Choose meats, poultry or seafood that can be cooked to a tender consistency—you can also use gravies and sauces to further moisten them.
And don’t forget to chew slowly. Not only does slower eating aid digestion, but it will help you avoid overworking your jaw joints.
With a few adjustments you can have a normal, nutritious diet and minimize the discomfort of your TMD symptoms. Continual healthy eating is a must for overall health and quality of life.
If you would like more information on reducing the impact of TMD on your life and health, please contact us. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “What to Eat When TMJ Pain Flares Up.”