Although chewing sugar free gum, especially gum containing Xylitol, has been shown in order to stimulate saliva production and lessen harmful bacteria in the mouth, new research indicates that chewing gum habitually could actually be the cause of mild to severe 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, Doctor Watemberg and his colleagues asked 30 patients aged 6-19 years old to quit chewing gum for one month. Most of these patients chewed gum habitually from 1-6 hours per day.
By the end of the 30 days, 7 of the 30 children mentioned 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 experienced completely ceased.
To further test the relationship between gum and headaches, twenty six of the research subjects then agreed to resume gum chewing again for two weeks. Within a few days, 100% of these experienced a return in headache signs and symptoms.
How gum chewing can cause head aches
Excessive gum chewing is believed 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 connection was made partly based on the information that individuals with TMJ dysfunction (TMD) are found to have significantly higher degrees of headaches than the general population. To understand why this happens, it is necessary to understand what TMD is.
TMD, or Tempromandular Disorder, refers to an imbalance in the jaw to skull relationship. Once the jaw is misaligned, both the hard and soft tissues are affected and many physiological problems can result, such as headaches, jaw pain, neck of the guitar and shoulder pain, tinnitus, or even ringing in the ears, and clicking or going sounds in the jaw joint.
In case you suffer from these symptoms, whether you chew up gum or not, ask your dental care provider to examine you for TMD.
Although the Tel Aviv College or university study covers a small sample dimension and there is some reasonable question 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 chewing, especially for people with a history of head aches, does have merit.
If giving up gum chewing means fewer headaches for you personally or your teens, it would be really worth forgoing the positive effects of gum gnawing on dental health from increased saliva production.