I’m trying to decide if I really need to see a TMJ dentist or if this is something I can manage on my own. My friend did some research online and found a site that says if I eat whole foods my TMJ symptoms will improve. It didn’t promise that they would go away, but it did say they will get better. For the past 3 years, I’ve had mild jaw pain, but it’s getting worse. Within the last 3 weeks, my jaw has locked during my sleep. That is a painful and scary feeling. Does your office know anything about a whole foods diet and TMJ? Or should I just go ahead and see a dentist? -Kylie


Whole foods are said to nourish the body and improve many different conditions. But TMJ (temporomanidibular joint) issues are not directly related to what you eat. The pain comes from nerve and muscle pain. Jaw muscles can be strained, injured, or sore. Some causes could be an accident, bruxism (teeth grinding), or trauma to the face.

Gum chewing should be avoided if you have TMJ pain. But there are some whole foods that will actually make the pain worse. Crunchy foods like carrots or apples require a lot of biting and chewing and can increase your pain. Chewy foods can also aggravate your symptoms.

There are some things you can do:

  • Give your jaw a rest by avoiding crunchy or chewy foods.
  • Alternate warm and cold compresses on the side of your face where you’re having pain.
  • Use anti-inflammatory medication (unless it conflicts with other medication you are taking, or is otherwise not tolerable).

If your jaw pain is worse in the mornings, it could indicate that you grind your teeth at night. A TMJ dentist can provide you with a custom mouth guard. It will reduce the amount of grinding and the pressure on your teeth.

While you wait for your appointment, try some of the suggestions above to see if you get a little relief. A TMJ dentist will let you know your options.

This post is sponsored by Colorado Springs dentist Dr. Joseph Rota.