Happy TMJ Awareness Month! Fall is notorious for jaw pain, and the culprits are all things you’ve likely eaten this season. Now you probably won’t be eating pumpkin quite like this guy, but here are a few things you might want to think twice about putting on your plate this Thanksgiving if you have popping, clicking, or pain with chewing or opening your mouth:
-Corn on the cob
-Tough, thick cuts of meat
Repetitive motions such as prolonged chewing (think chewing gum) can fatigue the jaw through unnecessary stress put on the TMJ muscles and ligaments. Similarly, opening too wide to bite into an apple or corn on the cob can lead to not only pain, but sometimes even what we call an acute closed-lock, or lockjaw.
The best way to combat jaw pain during your holiday parties is to pick softer foods or cut up food into smaller, more manageable bites. Sweet potatoes, tender cuts of turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie are all TMJ-friendly foods, and are good for you, too!
If you do start to experience a sudden, sharp onset of jaw pain or difficulty opening your mouth, visit your dentist as soon as you can. They may be able to prescribe some medications to help with the discomfort, and they may also refer you to physical therapy to help regain any lost motion and help stabilize your jaw so you are able to enjoy your favorite holiday foods without pain or limitation. Don’t wait for your dentist to refer, ASK for a physical therapy referral! Patients who receive physical therapy from a trained craniofacial PT in conjunction with dental interventions get better faster and more completely than those who only have dental treatment. Take this referral form with you when you go.
We have so much to be thankful for at HouseCall Head and Neck, and wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving full of love and gratitude.