If you are a gum chewer who’s been told that this is a bad habit and that you should stop, perhaps now you’ll find the incentive to stop. Research from Tel Aviv University shows that chewing gum has been associated with chronic headaches.
Gum Chewing Associated with Headaches
After a pediatrician observed that many kids in his practice had headaches and chewed gum, he decided to perform an experiment to see whether the two were really connected. Thirty children, age 6-19 who had chronic headaches, classified as either migraines or tension headaches, were asked to stop chewing gum for a month. Before this, every child chewed gum for 1-6 hours a day. When they stopped chewing gum, 87% of them saw a reduction in the frequency or severity of their headaches, and 63% of them saw their headaches stop completely.
The children who had reduced headaches then resumed gum chewing, and all of them saw their headaches return.
TMJ Blamed for Headaches
This is not the first time gum chewing has been linked to headaches, but the two previous studies were divided as to whether the cause of the headaches was temporomandibular joint stress or the artificial sweetener aspartame. The lead author of the current study favors temporomandibular joint stress. He says, “Every doctor knows that overuse of the [this joint] will cause headaches.” If artificial sweeteners were to blame, he notes, then there would be many more headaches associated with other things that contain higher levels of artificial sweeteners, such as diet sodas.
Researchers also note that these findings have immediate applications for people in this situation. There is no reason why children shouldn’t stop chewing gum to see if it helped with their headaches.
Of course, people who get headaches because of normal chewing cannot give up eating, and may need alternative treatment for their headaches. For these people, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) may mean their jaw is constantly stressed. TMJ treatment can put their jaw in a more relaxed position, resulting in fewer headaches.
To learn whether TMJ treatment can help reduce your headaches, please call (303) 691-0267 at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado in Denver.