Millions of people, especially teens and young children, are notorious for constantly chewing gum.
Recently, Dr. Nathan Watemberg of Tel Aviv University found in his research that gum chewing teens and young children are giving themselves headaches. Out of 30 patients tested, 26 of them who quit chewing gum had significant improvement and 19 had complete headache resolution.
What’s the deal with headaches?
Headaches are pretty common in someones childhood and continue to become more frequent during adolescence, mostly among girls. The usual triggers are stress, fatigue, heat, too much screen time, noise, sunlight, smoking, skipping meals, and menstruation.
At Meir Medical Center’s Child Neurology Unit and Child Development Center and community clinics, it was noticed that many patients who reported headaches were daily gum chewers. The most popular type gum chewers were teenage girls. Dr. Watemberg noted in his study that when he asked patients to stop chewing gum completely, they got substantially better.
Dr. Watemberg also asked a group of 30 patients between the ages of six and 19 years old who suffered from chronic migraines or tension headaches and chewed gum daily to quit chewing gum for an entire month. These patients would chew gum anywhere from an hour to six hours a day. “Out of our 30 patients, 26 reported significant improvement, and 19 had complete headache resolution,” said Dr. Watemberg. To test these results, 26 of the patients went back to chewing gum for two weeks and all of them reported a return of symptoms within days.
Two studies previous to this one suggest that chewing gum is linked to headaches but offer different explanations. One study says that chewing gum stresses the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, the place where the skull meets the jaw. The other study suggested that aspartame, the artificial sweetener in gum could be the issue.
So, what’s the verdict?
Dr. Watemberg agree’s with the theory behind TMJ because gum only carries its flavor for a short period of time and does not contain a significant amount of aspartame. He claims that if aspartame caused the headaches then more people would suffer from them more often due to diet drinks and artificially sweetened products.
He advises that gum chewing be stopped by those with chronic headaches.
Are you a constant gum chewer? If so, does chewing gum give you headaches and would you ever give up gum to ease your head pain? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Dr. Coleman is a leading cosmetic dentist in the United States, as well as an international lecturer in dental techniques and technology. With a great sense of humor and a sense of compassion for others, Dr. Coleman takes pride in improving the lives and smiles of his patients. To learn more about Dr. Coleman or his practice, visit his Facebook and Twitter pages!