Whether a person chews gum as a snack or because they like the flavor, it is a common occurrence. However, if you chew gum and suffer from headaches or jaw pain, you might want to think before you pick up that new pack of gum or snack. A person suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) might find it painful to chew gum while others will gladly chew it on a daily basis.

What the numbers say

In a previous study, 30 daily gum chewers between the ages of 6 and 19 were studied–each suffered from chronic migraines or tension headaches and jaw pain. After eliminating the usage of gum, 19 of the 30 gum chewers had their headache and jaw pain go away completely. Another seven had a reduction in headache frequency and severity. Then, when 26 of them began to chew gum again, their pain returned almost immediately. With that in mind, think before you reach for another stick of gum or piece of junk food.  

You’ll find you’re eating more junk food

The more gum you chew, the more unhealthy foods you might find yourself eating. And, when you eat more junk food, the more weight you may gain, which can then lead to further complications, such as sleep apnea. Research even shows that people who chewed gum are less likely to eat fruit, but went straight to the potato chips or candy. Why is this? Because the minty flavor of the gum might make fruits and vegetables taste bitter, so they tend to avoid them.

You’ll develop TMD and jaw pain

Chewing gum often causes jaw muscle imbalance, especially if you chew on one side more than the other. Because of this, it can cause the development of temporomandibular joint disorder in your jaw, which can be extremely painful. Anytime there is an overuse of certain muscles, it can lead to contracted muscles and related pain, including headaches, earaches, and even toothaches over time. If this pain or misuse of muscles is not properly regulated, the stress can lead to strong facial pain or extreme discomfort in the back of the neck.

For many people, the initial cause of TMD is unknown. Stress, a poor diet, lack of sleep, and bad posture are all factors that can make TMJ symptoms worse. Similarly, the constant long-term usage of chewing gum can be an aggravating factor for TMJ pain, and facial pain and disorders.

Contact Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia to learn more about TMD and how chewing gum might lead to further pain and complications.