My BEST Dentists Journal

All Journal Entries

Why Does My Jaw Hurt When I Eat?

Pain during or after eating can result from a number of problems, including tooth decay or other dental problems. Make sure you see your dentist every six months for a checkup and discuss any symptoms you’re having.

If you get frequent headaches, especially migraines, you may also notice that certain foods or the act of chewing very crunchy foods can trigger a headache. If this is happening to you, you may need to see a medical professional who specializes in headache treatment.

Many times, however, pain from eating isn’t a tooth or headache issue — it’s a jaw issue. A temporomandibular disorder, or TMD, causes inflammation, swelling, and pain in the jaw and facial area that can get worse when eating, talking, chewing gum or even breathing through the mouth. TMD is often called TMJ, which is actually the name for the affected jaw joint, known as the temporomandibular joint.

Besides jaw pain and pain after eating, people who have TMD may notice:

Jaw popping, clicking, or a grinding, gravelly sound when using the jaw

Regular headaches, especially upon waking in the morning or after using the jawTemple area painPain or stiffness in the back, shoulders, or neck

Inability to freely move or open or close the jaw

Ear pain without an ear infection

Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

Balance problems or dizziness

TMD is a complex condition — because the TMJ is a complex joint. The bones, muscles, and tendons that allow you to move your jaw in different directions must work together perfectly in order to function without pain or symptoms of TMD. If something throws off this balance, the TMJ may become irritated, swollen, or inflamed. This can quickly lead to TMD symptoms.

Many people think that some soreness or popping of the jaw when eating is normal — it’s not. The jaw should work silently and smoothly when it’s in optimal condition. You should be able to eat without any discomfort or stiffness. If this is not the case, don’t ignore it. Over time, symptoms could get worse. Make an appointment with a medical professional who is educated in TMJ disorders and can guide you through treatment.

Many people are wrongly led to believe that if they have TMD, they should simply “tough it out” until it goes away or that it will never get better. This is not the case!

TMD can be treated in a number of non-invasive and highly effective ways. But, you must see a doctor who is experienced in helping people with this complex condition. At MedCenter TMJ, this is what our doctors do every day.

Every patient at our practice receives a personalized treatment plan designed to get you on the path to healing as quickly as possible. This will likely include a custom orthotic appliance that will help align your jaw in its optimal position. You’ll also receive instructions and plans for stretches, exercises, stress management techniques, and ongoing support. If your pain is severe, we will work with you to find safe, effective pain relief to help you get on with your life. We also help our patients with alternative and natural remedies.

Just like you would not walk on a broken foot until it was healed, you should not excessively use or stress your TMJ if you’re experiencing TMD symptoms. One of the best ways to help rest and heal the TMJ is to follow a TMJ-friendly diet.

A TMJ-friendly diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables for their anti-inflammatory properties. Proper nutrition and healthy foods can improve TMD symptoms. But, don’t consume fruits and vegetables raw if they are crunchy. Instead, cook them until soft or blend them into a nutritious smoothie.

You’ll need to avoid foods that require extensive chewing, as this will stress an already-irritated jaw joint. Crusty bread, tough cuts of meat like jerky or steaks, chips, and similar foods should be avoided. Try softer options such as very soft, thin breads and meats that have been boiled or slow-cooked for softness. Avoid chewing gum at all times and never chomp on ice, hard candy, or other hard foods!

by MedCenter TMJ

More Information:

Views: 214

My BEST Dentists Journal Headlines