These Noshes Belong on the Naughty List

When you think of the holiday season, there are so many wonderful things that come to mind, like family, friends, fun and, of course, all that delicious food. But for some people with TMJ disorder, that last one can take the joy out of the holidays, because some foods are simply too painful to eat. If that sounds like you, don’t despair. There are plenty of delicious foods you can enjoy this holiday season that won’t aggravate your TMJ disorder symptoms. Here are just a few (and a few to avoid, too).


Appetizers before the big meal are a tradition in some families, but with so many chip-and-dip-type options, it can be a painful meal for TMJ disorder sufferers. If you need a little something to tide you over until the big meal is ready, try apps like hummus and pita, softer cheeses, pitted olives, sausage slices, and soft fruits such as strawberries and blueberries.


: Chips, spanakopita, grapes, hard cheese, crackers, wings, nuts, raw veggies, grapes or largely cut melon chunks.


Soft, easy-to-chew foods like soft dinner rolls, pureed squash or squash soup, chili or other stews, soups, roasted or mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, stuffing, creamed corn, jellied cranberries, stuffed mushrooms, and rice or pasta should all help prevent excess wear on your jaw this holiday season while keeping you in a festive mood.


: Crunchy topping on casseroles, raw vegetables, and baguettes or bread that must be “torn” with the teeth.

Main Course

The main course is the star of the meal, but for TMJ disorder patients it can be tough to decide which meats won’t overwork their jaw. Turkey is a traditional meal but can sometimes be too dry and tough for TMJ disorder patients. If you just can’t give up the turkey, cutting it into very small bites may be useful. Other main courses to consider are rotisserie-style chicken, Cornish game hens and seafood.


: Beef and pork roasts, as they tend to be tougher and may put excess strain on the temporomandibular joint.


Dessert is arguably the best part of the holidays, but many traditional desserts are too painful for TMJ disorder patients to enjoy. To avoid this, opt for thins like spumoni ice cream, pumpkin pie (especially with flaky or crumbly crust), cake, pudding, brownies and hot chocolate.


: Any type of hard candy like ribbon candy or candy canes, any type of “brittle,” fruitcake (yes, this is your excuse to not eat your mother-in-law’s fruitcake!), hard gingerbread, hard cookies, chocolates and pecan pie, which has the double-whammy effect of being crunchy and chewy, both of which are bad news for TMJ disorder.

Keeping these items in mind, you should be able to plan a TMJ-friendly holiday meal that you can enjoy without having to suffer for it.

Dr. George’s office wishes you a safe and happy holiday season and new year. To schedule an appointment, please call 724-220-2347.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on November 12th, 2018