The holiday season is the best for spending time with family that you might not see that often. However, what happens when your patients suffer from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (TMD)? To help them enjoy the holidays without being in pain, here are some helpful tips you can share with your TMD patients this holiday season.

Skip the crunchy and chewy foods

Of course there will be a mixture of crunchy and chewy foods on the table this holiday season. However, it is important not to indulge. Most crunchy foods, such as hard, crusty breads and crackers, can place strain on a person’s jaw. And those chewy foods? They can also worsen TMD pain. This is because chewy foods are often sweet, enjoyable treats that might be hard to avoid. You might want the gum, caramel and gummy candy, but it is important to take a pass on those to avoid TMJ pain this season.

Remember to take smaller bites

Your patients may be tempted to eat everything in sight without chewing it all the way through. Don’t worry, we all get excited for this delicious food. However, it is important to remind patients to take their time. Large foods require opening the mouth wide, which can overextend the jaw and cause pain if for patients with TMD. Even large sandwiches with leftover turkey can overextend the jaw. Try using a fork and knife to cut food into smaller pieces that are easier to eat and won’t cause added TMJ pain.

Choose more vegetables

Encourage your patients to say, “Yes!” to more vegetables! But make sure they choose wisely when deciding which vegetables to eat. For example, try to avoid raw carrots and celery. This is because they are harder and require more chewing, which can lead to a sore jaw. On the other hand, though, if the carrots are cooked, then they are soft enough to not hurt the jaw, so keep that in mind too.

Bring soft or request foods

When visiting family this season, patients can try doing their part in bringing soft foods to the holiday party. This will add to the options for what they can eat. In addition to this, your patients should make sure those who are hosting events know of their need for a soft diet. Most people want to know ahead of time and will make sure to have something available. They don’t want their family members to miss out on wonderful food.

What other tips do you provide your patients with TMD for the holiday season? Leave your tips in the comments and we can continue to share these helpful tips with our TMD patients!