“POP!” “SNAP!” “CRACK!” The sounds of gum chewing are far too familiar. However, while chewing bubble gum might be a daily habit for most people, it can pose a threat to your jaw health. If you chew gum and suffer from headaches or jaw pain, you might want to think again about picking up a new pack of gum. A person who suffers from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) might find it painful to chew gum while others gladly chew it daily. Before you reach for your next stick of gum, consider these negative side-effects:
Your salivary glands are stimulated to produce saliva whenever you chew. Producing a steady stream of saliva for chewing gum is a waste of energy and resources that could otherwise be used for essential metabolic activities.
If your gum is “sugar-free” and sweetened with aspartame, be aware that this substance has been linked with cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, and birth defects.
If your gum is sweetened with sugar, know that regular intake of refined sugar is associated with tooth decay and many systemic conditions.
The Development of Pain with TMD
The act of chewing gum leads to jaw muscle imbalance. This is especially true if you find yourself chewing on one side more than the other. When this occurs, it can cause the development of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), which can be extremely painful. Anytime a muscle or joint is overused, it can lead to contracted muscles and related pain, such as headaches, earaches, and even toothaches. IF this pain or misuse of muscles is not properly treated, it can lead to intense facial pain or extreme discomfort in the back of the neck.
Sometimes the initial cause or development of TMD is unknown—this is normal. TMD symptoms can worsen because of:
- A poor diet
- Lack of sleep
- Bad posture
The constant, long-term use of chewing gum can be an aggravating factor for TMJ pain, facial pain, and other disorders. By contacting Dr. Ledermann or Dr. Hakala at Minnesota Craniofacial Center, P.C. you can take the next step toward improving your jaw pain. Before you unwrap another stick of gum are you experiencing any stiffness, soreness, or pain? If so, stop and take a break from chewing gum. Minnesota Craniofacial Center is available to help you find relief.