Last week we covered eating for your mouth and body. This week we’re talking about your jaw. The temporomandibular joint is more than a hinge that connects the mandible (jaw) to the temporal bone at the base of the skull. It doesn’t just allow you to open and close your mouth, it gives you a highly complex range of motions. When this joint malfunctions as a result of TMD, also called TMJ, the pain can be far-reaching. Constant muscle soreness, lockjaw, tingling fingers, and even tension headaches and migraines can persist for months. For some people, the problem becomes permanent, and frustrating because doctors don’t offer good solutions.
Neuromuscular dentistry can provide significant relief using several drug-free treatments, but pairing these with a healthy diet designed specifically to fight inflammation can improve any treatment plan. What’s important to remember is that your body wants to heal you. Sometimes, however, it just needs the right fuel to do so.
Inflammation Could be the Key
Although the cause of TMD has been hotly contested, inflammation as a symptom is not. That’s why a dentist can often diagnose TMJ by simply feeling a patient’s jaw. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection and injury. In the short term, it can protect vital organs and expedite the healing of muscle fiber, but in the long term, it can contribute to chronic diseases and actually shut down the healing process.
By cutting inflammatory foods from your diet, and increasing foods with anti-inflammatory properties, you can help your body heal, and decrease negative symptoms.
What Foods Cause Inflammation?
Some of the biggest inflammation culprits are sugar, grain-fed meat, dairy, and refined flour. As it turns out, these foods aren’t so good for your body, either. Other things known to cause inflammation are foods containing omega-6 fatty acids such as vegetable oil. Alcohol, cigarettes, and drinks containing aspartame have been known to promote low-grade inflammation, as well.
The Anti-inflammatory Diet
Foods such as ginger, turmeric, and blueberries are known to be powerful anti-inflammatories, and also good for your immune system! Omega-3 containing foods like salmon, trout, and tilapia can help fight inflammation, ease pain, and protect your heart.
Probably the best advice for eating healthier is to listen to your body, and keep a journal. If eating a hamburger makes your jaw ache the next day, avoid it. The same goes for high-impact foods that require a lot of force to chew. Gum, especially, is a problem, and should be avoided during any TMJ flare-ups you experience.
For some people, diet changes can provide relief, but for many the condition needs treatment. If your TMJ symptoms persist for more than a week, despite changes to diet and habits, you would benefit from professional care. If you are looking for relief from your TMJ symptoms in Wichita Falls, TX, please call 940-322-2252 or contact us today for an appointment at StarImage Dentistry.