Because the jaw movements with eating can play such a large role in TMJ conditions, dietary changes can have a beneficial (or detrimental) impact on TMJ complaints. The less mechanical stress on the temporo-mandibular joint, the better chance TMJ has to heal. Three general guidelines in diet therefore help tailor a dietary regiment for TMJ sufferers.
The first step is to select a diet of soft foods. Soft foods require less pressure in chewing, therefore less pressure on the jaw and related tissues around the temporo-mandibular joint. Ideal foods include soft breads, eggs, pastas, soft fleshy fruits, ground meats, yogurts, etc. By requiring the jaw to chew with less force and frequency, less “stress” occurs allowing TMJ to improve.
Secondly, foods are to be eaten in smaller pieces. This requires cutting harder to chew items into bites that likewise require less chewing. By reducing bite size, this prevents someone from having to restrict their diets too significantly. The result however is the same. Smaller pieces allow less mechanical stress on the jaw and helps promote healing of TMJ symptoms.
Lastly, sticky foods that promote excessive chewing should be avoided in TMJ conditions. This of course includes chewing gum, but also many other foods considered a challenge to efficiently chew. Some examples would be beef jerky, bagels, caramel, taffy, dried apricots, and stringy undercooked meats. Just as soft foods allow less stress on the jaw, these foods exacerbate TMJ symptoms. Avoiding achieves the same benefits in allowing TMJ symptoms to improve.