If you are looking for advice online about treating temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) at home, you have probably come across the guidance that you should try a soft diet for a while. It’s even something we recommend.

But is this always a worthwhile treatment to attempt? Not necessarily. Whether a soft diet can help you or not depends on the type of TMJ you have, which you can get hits at by looking at your symptoms.

However, even if it can help, you shouldn’t count on it to help too much, and you need to know when to seek professional care for your TMJ.

Beautiful woman eats a healthy, soft food diet at a counter at a restaurant

Why a Soft Diet Might Help

The purpose of a soft diet is to reduce stress on your jaw, especially on your jaw muscles. Eating a soft diet can reduce the amount of work your muscles have to do, which can help them recover from overwork to reduce jaw pain.

A soft diet can also help reduce stress on your jaw joint. If you’re biting and chewing very hard or tough foods, then it can lead to swelling in the jaw joint, which can cause jaw joint pain.

How to Tell If You Should Try a Soft Diet

So how do you know if you should try a soft diet for TMJ? You should consider it if you experience:

  • Jaw tension
  • Sore jaw muscles
  • Sore jaw joint

You can also test how your jaw pain responds to some other home remedies. If your jaw muscles feel relieved by heat, a soft diet might be helpful. A soft diet might also help if your jaw joint responds to an ice pack.

When a Soft Diet Is Unlikely to Help

However, if you experience the following symptoms, you might have TMJ that won’t respond to a soft diet:

  • Jaw popping or clicking
  • Irregular jaw motion
  • Locked jaw
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Tinnitus

These can be symptoms related to joint problems or nerve impacts that go beyond simple muscle or joint strain. While trying a soft diet is unlikely to make the problem worse, these problems are signs that your TMJ has developed to the point where it is likely to worsen with time. Waiting to get professional help can mean you need more invasive treatment.

In addition, you shouldn’t try a soft diet for too long. If you try a soft diet or any other home care for more than a week, and your symptoms either don’t improve or get worse, it’s time to seek professional care.

If you are looking for a TMJ dentist in the Detroit area, please call (248) 480-0085 today for an appointment with Dr. Jeffrey S. Haddad at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness.