Aims: To better understand the experiences of individuals who must alter the types of food they eat because of having a chronic temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) and the digestive issues that these alterations produce.
Methods: Six participants answered open-ended questions during semi-structured interviews about their experiences with TMD-related changes in diet and digestion. These interviews, held face-to-face with the participants in a nonclinical environment, were recorded and transcribed. Interpretive phenomenology was used to arrange and analyze the narrative data collected.
Results: The authors identified three common themes among the participants: (1) constipation and bloating; (2) loss of chewing function; and (3) weight change. For each of these themes, participants expressed physiologic and psychologic complications, which were largely unaddressed by their health care providers.
Conclusion: These findings highlight the need for health care providers to establish nutritional guidelines for TMD individuals at risk of physiologic and psychologic comorbidities. Health care intervention programs to treat people living with chronic TMD pain and that provide nutritional guidance will help decrease medical crises and the need for expensive interventions and will better assist these patients.