Even though chewing sugar free gum, especially gum containing Xylitol, has been shown to stimulate saliva production and lessen harmful bacteria in the mouth, new study indicates that chewing gum habitually can actually be the cause of mild to serious headaches.
Research findings from Tel Aviv University, as published in the journal Pediatric Neurology, found that chewing gum could be responsible for up to 87% of chronic headaches and migraines in teenagers.
In the study, Dr . Watemberg and his colleagues asked thirty patients aged 6-19 years old to give up chewing gum for one month. Most of these individuals chewed gum habitually from 1-6 hours per day.
By the end of the month, 7 of the 30 children stated that they noticed a decrease in the particular frequency and intensity of their head aches and a further 19 out of thirty patients reported their headaches had completely ceased.
To further test the connection between gum and headaches, 26 of the research subjects then decided to resume gum chewing again for 2 weeks. Within a few days, 100% of these experienced a return in headache signs and symptoms.
How gum chewing can cause headaches
Excessive gum chewing is thought to place stress on the temporomandibular combined or TMJ, which connects the jaw bone to the skull. It is presumed that the excessive use of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) through gum nibbling can be a cause of headaches.
This link was made partly based on the knowledge that individuals with TMJ dysfunction (TMD) are found to have significantly higher levels of headaches than the general population. To comprehend why this happens, it is necessary to understand exactly what TMD is.
TMD, or Tempromandular Disorder, refers to an imbalance in the jaw to skull relationship. Once the jaw is misaligned, both the tough and soft tissues are affected and many physiological problems can effect, such as headaches, jaw pain, throat and shoulder pain, tinnitus, or even ringing in the ears, and clicking or going sounds in the jaw joint.
If you suffer from these symptoms, whether you chew gum or not, ask your dental hygiene provider to examine you for TMD.
Although the Tel Aviv School study covers a small sample dimension and there is some reasonable doubt that could be cast about the reliability from the sample group of teens to detect and express their symptoms precisely, the commonsense recommendation of giving up habitual and excessive gum gnawing, especially for people with a history of head aches, does have merit.
If giving up chewing gum chewing means fewer headaches for you personally or your teens, it would be well worth forgoing the positive effects of gum gnawing on dental health from increased drool production.