The Best and Worst Holiday Food for TMJ Disorders

TMJ Disorder treatment in West Orange

The holiday season is known for its decadent sweets and savory meals. Enjoying these delicious foods is difficult when every bite causes jaw pain due to your TMJ disorder (TMD). However, some holiday goods are easier to enjoy than others. Our TMJ dentists want you to enjoy the seasonal treats while mitigating TMJ pain. They have compiled a list of the do’s and don’ts of holiday foods for people with TMD.

Avoid Hard, Crunchy Foods

You want to avoid foods that are crunchy, tough or large because they require extending your jaw to bite and chew, which aggravates the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) responsible for that movement and your pain. While many families celebrate the holidays with foods that are often specific to their heritage or ruled by tradition, this time of year typically includes these options that are not TMJ-friendly:

  • Turkey or ham
  • Pecan pie
  • Hard candy
  • Gummy sweets
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Green bean casserole
  • Fruitcake
  • Sausage or jerky

Whether your family serves these at your holiday dinner table or not, try to avoid the foods that are hard or crunchy to save yourself from jaw and mouth pain. Chewy, tough meat can be particularly harmful to the jaw joints. Our TMJ dentists also recommend you avoid starchy foods and foods high in preservatives (MSG) or salicylates (fruit juice, jam or jelly).

Fill Up on Soft, Savory Foods

Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes are an excellent option for people with TMD because they don’t require your jaw joints to work as hard or open as wide as other options on the table. Cranberries, stuffing and macaroni and cheese are also good choices.

You may have to forego the pecan pie but you can still enjoy the ice cream served with it. The skins of vegetables can be challenging but peeled and cooked veggies should work fine to avoid TMJ pain. Other common foods that are easier to eat for people with TMD include:

  • Squash
  • Asparagus
  • Cooked carrots
  • Soft fruits such as pears and bananas
  • Pasta
  • Fish or chicken
  • Creamed spinach
  • Pudding

At the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey our dentists recommend consuming moderate amounts of organ meats, red meats and saturated fats to improve joint health. Make sure you enjoy them in small amounts because excessive weight gain is also bad for your joints.

Schedule an Appointment with a TMJ Dentist

If you struggle with jaw pain or believe you may have a TMJ disorder, contact Drs. Ivan and Allan Stein in New Jersey to schedule your neuromuscular evaluation.