Our Dental Blog

Posts for tag: jaw pain

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
June 27, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: jaw pain   tmj disorders  

Eating is like breathing: We often do it without much thought. But if you suffer from chronic jaw pain, every bite can get your attention—and not in a good way. What's worse, in an effort to avoid the pain associated with a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) you might make less than nutritious food choices.

But there are ways to eat healthy without aggravating the symptoms of TMD—not just your choices of food, but also how you prepare and actually eat the food. Here are 4 tips that can help you manage eating with TMD.

Choose moist foods in sauces or gravy. A lot of chewing action is intended to mix saliva with tough or dry foods to make them easier to digest. But this extra jaw action can irritate the jaw joints and muscles and increase your discomfort. To help reduce your jaws' work load, choose foods with a high moisture content, or cook them in a sauce or gravy.

Peel foods with skin. Fresh fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, but their tough outer skin or peel is often hard to chew. Although these parts may also contain nutrients, removing them allows you to gain most of the nutritional benefit of the food while making it easier to chew it.

Cut foods into bite-size pieces. A lot of discomfort with TMD occurs with having to open the jaws wide to accommodate large pieces of food. To minimize the amount of jaw opening, take time to cut all your food portions down into smaller pieces. Doing so can help you avoid unnecessary discomfort.

Practice deliberate eating. All of us can benefit from slower, more methodical eating, but it's especially helpful for someone with TMD. By chewing deliberately and slowly and doing your best to limit jaw opening, you can enhance your comfort level.

Eating often becomes an arduous task for someone with TMD that increases pain and stress. But practicing these tips can make your dining experience easier—and more enjoyable.

If you would like more information on managing TMD in everyday life, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “What to Eat When TMJ Pain Flares Up.”

By Gentle Art of Dentistry
April 10, 2017
Category: Dental
Tags: jaw pain   tmj  

If you've had ongoing pain or stiffness in your jaw, you might have TMJ. This disorder of the jaw joint and surrounding muscles can be tmjcaused by an injury, joint degeneration or simply anatomical issues. It's a common problem, affecting between 5% and 12% of the population, according to the National Institute of Health. Dr. Carol Cunningham, your dentist in Decatur, IL, is well-versed in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ. She goes into detail about this disorder and how it can be treated here.

What is TMJ?

TMJ is an abbreviation for temporomandibular joint, which is the portion of the jaw that opens and closes. The problems with it may also be referred to as TMD or TMJD, with the 'D' standing for dysfunction. Regardless of the acronym, it refers to the misalignment, inflammation or underlying problem, such as arthritis, in the jaw joint or the muscles surrounding it. TMJ's symptoms are unmistakable: a clicking, popping or grinding sensation when chewing or talking, an inability to open the mouth all the way, and an aching pain in and around the ear, cheeks and mouth. Your dentist also sees patients with TMJ who experience a ringing in their ears, dizziness or pain that travels down the neck and shoulders.

What can be done to treat TMJ in Decatur?

Your dentist will first evaluate your condition to rule out any other possible causes, such as gum disease, tooth decay or sinus issues. X-rays can also help to detect the presence of TMJ. Dr. Cunningham may recommend dental restorations, certain analgesics to help relieve pain and may suggest treating the area with ice or heat. There are also therapeutic exercises that can be prescribed to strengthen the muscles and improve motion in the joint.

If you think you might be dealing with TMJ, don't delay in contacting Dr. Cunningham, your dentist in Decatur, IL, right away for treatment. We want to help you achieve your best oral health!