Help TMD Patients Eat Right

Without proper nutrition your patients increase the risk of either gaining or losing weight, or suffering from nutritional deficiencies due to the pain caused by TMD. And through this, it can lead to other health problems. When it comes to maintaining your patients’ health and diet, it is important to remind them to eat fruits, vegetables, starches, protein and dairy, but to also be mindful of their TMD along the way.

A Background on TMD

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) are complex and poorly understood, and are characterized by pain in the jaw joint and/or surrounding tissues and limitation in jaw movements. These problems can affect a person’s ability to chew and swallow foods, while limiting how wide he or she can open their mouth. The immediate causes of TMD conditions such as:

  • Injury
  • Arthritis
  • Muscle problems
  • Autoimmune and connective tissue disease
  • Developmental conditions
  • Movement disorders affecting the jaw

Whatever your patient’s situation may be, it is clear that TMD alone can impact the quality of life and lead to poor nutrition if the jaw pain and oral disability seriously affects their diet.

Encourage Patients to Eat Right

Many people who suffer from TMD tend to struggle with determining what to eat in order to maintain a proper weight and ensure adequate protein, vitamin and mineral status. Food choices will vary depending on the amount of pain your patients experience and their ability to open the mouth, chew and swallow. For those who are able to adequately open their mouths and have minimal pain, a soft or easy to chew diet will work well. A soft diet is defined as food that requires minimal chewing, including:

  • Dairy/Dairy Alternatives: Smooth yogurt, soft cheeses, milk, custard, puddings, and soymilk.
  • Grains: Soft bread, corn bread, muffins without seeds or nuts, soft tortillas, pancakes, and quinoa.
  • Fruits: Canned fruits, bananas, ripe melon, baked apples, fruit juice, and fruit smoothies.
  • Vegetables: Cooked carrots, squash, zucchini, spinach, kale or other greens, avocados, green beans, and cooked pumpkin.
  • Protein Foods: Soft-cooked chicken or turkey with gravy, meatloaf, fish, deli meats, meatballs, tuna, refried beans, and smooth nut butters.
  • Soups: Cream-based soups, tomato soup, and broth-based soups.
  • Desserts: Soft cakes, cobblers and pies, frozen yogurt, sherbet, milkshakes and puddings.

If your patient is unable to tolerate a soft diet, a pureed diet may be a better option. Some examples of foods that can be included in a pureed diet are:

  • Dairy/Dairy Alternatives: Smooth yogurt, soft cheeses, milk, custard, puddings, and soymilk.
  • Grains: Bread that has been soaked into a dissolvable consistency, pureed pasta, hot cereals, grits, and mashed potatoes.
  • Fruits: Applesauce, mashed ripe bananas, fruit juice, and seedless jam/jelly.
  • Vegetables: Mashed white or sweet potatoes, pureed carrots, beets, beans, peas, creamed corn and hummus.
  • Protein Foods: Pureed meats, pureed/scrambled eggs, crustless quiche, egg custards, and yogurt-based smoothies.
  • Soups: Soups that are smooth or that have been put through the blender.
  • Desserts: Puddings, custards, dessert soups, gelatin, and fondue.

By keeping a list of foods they can eat and foods not to eat, it is a good place for patients to start in ensuring they are eating the right foods. For your patients suffering from TMD it is important to guide them in choosing the right foods to eat. If you are not sure what to recommend your patients to eat, contact Dr. Mayoor Patel for more information in helping to protect your patients while minimizing jaw pain.

Provide Sleep Apnea Relief with Positional Therapy

We know that a number of factors can lead to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and that many patients experience more than just one of those symptoms. With that in mind, there have been various sleep studies out there that have shown how a person’s sleeping position can affect the severity of their sleep apnea. Additionally, some sleep apnea sufferers, their sleeping position is the leading cause for their sleep breathing disorder—who would have thought that? So, when a patient’s sleeping position is the leading cause, we can utilize positional therapy to help find relief.

What is Positional Therapy?

Here’s how it works: Positional therapy is simply the changing of one’s position during sleep in order to open the airway and allow for less obstructed breathing. Positional sleep therapy prevents, in one way or another, patients from sleeping in the supine position, which will often obstruct their airway.

Positional Therapy can be performed by completing one of the following:

  • Strap a small ball to the back of the neck to prevent supine sleeping.
  • Strap a foam wedge on the back to encourage side sleeping.
  • Place an alarm that wakes the sleeper each time they roll on their back to sleep.
  • Encourage a patient to train themselves not to sleep on their back.

While it doesn’t seem like much, positional therapy can significantly help your patients get a better night’s sleep. Additionally, it is only effective if the patient’s OSA is in part caused or aggravated by back sleeping. Positional therapy is not a cure for sleep apnea, but it can help to reduce the number of apnea episodes that occur per hour.

This is a therapy that is worth looking into to provide further help for our patients. What are your thoughts on positional therapy for help in providing relief from sleep apnea?

Essential Oils for TMD Relief

Today there are a variety of options available for pain relief. Typically, many people will go the way of medication or even surgery if completely necessary. However, what about the alternative options you have for receiving pain relief? While many people might not agree with it, essential oils have been proven to provide relief in many ways. The FDA has not listed it as an option, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try it out! I know many people who utilize essential oils for a wide range of symptoms and they say it works every time, which helps to keep options natural. Let’s take a look at some essential oil options you might want to test out for pain relief—your patients might enjoy these options in addition to their oral appliance therapy!

Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a great essential oil option, but why? Well, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of this essential oil:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Fruity smelling
  • Helps to ease the pain from earaches that radiates into jaw and neck

There you have it—it not only smells good, but it is an anti-inflammatory that helps to provide relief from earaches to jaw and neck pain.

Pain-X and Muscle Relax

In addition to the use of an oral appliance for proper treatment, Pain-X helps with the pain. Alternating between Pain-X and Muscle Relax can allow for proper relief, but don’t be afraid to utilize both at the same time while massaging it onto the area of your jaw joint, as well as behind the ears.

Strength

There are so many options available for essential oils and, yes, there is one called Strength that works! Many people have used Strength for their TMD and have shown success. Simply take the Strength essential oil and rub it around the jaw area to gently massage the joint. By doing this, many people have experienced almost immediate relief from discomfort—its worth a try, right?  You might even want to try to put a drop of Strength behind each ear, on the jaw and at the base of the neck to cover all areas that might experience soreness.

If you are interested in learning more about essential oils and the different options available, do it! And, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me because I have some experience with these oils as well! Let me know your thoughts on essential oils and how they might have worked for you or your patients!

Finding Alternative Treatments for TMD Relief

We know the traditional treatment options for TMD relief, including oral appliance therapy. However, are there other treatment options that don’t require medication or appliances? There are! While these alternative treatment options may not work for everyone, they are available to provide relief for many patients.

Essential Oils

You might have heard about essential oils by now, but did you know there are certain oils that can help relieve some of your patients’ pain? While it is not FDA approved, it does appear to work. And, there are so many people out there right now that utilize essential oils on a daily basis that we should also try to cater to their needs and wants when it comes to alternative treatment options. I will touch base on this topic more in an upcoming blog on choosing essential oils for relief of TMJ pain.

Physical Therapy

By utilizing stretching and range-of-motion exercises, your patients can find relief from pain while also helping to restore proper movement and function of the jaw. For instance, one exercise you might want your patients to try is to open their mouth as wide as he or she can without feeling any pain. With the mouth open wide, have your patient move their jaw gradually to the right and hold for 10 seconds and then return to the middle. Next, have them move their jaw gradually to the right and hold for 10 seconds, then return the jaw to the center and close their mouth. This can be repeated 4-5 times.

Massage

Everyone loves a massage, right? Massage has been shown to be effective in relieving TMJ pain. Some massage therapists specialize in TMD and even work on the muscles inside the mouth to release tension surrounding the jaw. Trigger points, or muscle knots, are a common cause of stubborn and strange aches and pains, and yet they are underdiagnosed. The perfect spots for massage relief are trigger points that are common and yet fairly easy to massage.

Self-Management

Many times you are your own relief. If your patient suffers from TMJ pain or discomfort, it is important for them to be aware of their own habits. Encourage your patients to avoid chewing gum or eating hard, chewy foods to put less stress on the TMJ muscles. It is also important for them to keep their teeth apart with the jaw muscles relaxed as much as possible throughout the day. Avoiding stress and learning what situations cause them to clench their teeth are both vital in preventing TMD symptoms from getting worse or even returning. Help your patients take charge of their health and understand what is causing their pain.

For more information on TMD and other alternative treatment options, please contact me further.