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.