Gum Chewing Teens and Migraine Headache

Saturday, December 21st, 2013, 7:06 pm

Does your teen get migraine headaches? If your teen chews a lot of gum then stopping the gum chewing may help stop the headache pain.

Research was carried out at Tel Aviv University that looked at the connection between chronic headaches and teen gum chewing habits. 30 teens were grouped according to how much time, on average, they spent chewing gum each day. All of the groups were asked to stop chewing gum for one month. Researchers checked back with them after the month was up.

All of the groups reported changes in their headache symptoms when they stopped chewing gum. 26 of the individual teens reported improvement in their symptoms and 19 stopped experiencing headaches altogether.

When they started chewing gum again, 20 teens started experiencing the headaches once more. Researchers blame the headaches on stress to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) caused by the frequent gum chewing. Dr. Nathan Watemberg said “Every doctor knows that overuse of the TMJ will cause headaches. I believe this is what’s happening when children and teenagers chew gum excessively.”

Of course, the link between overuse of the jaw joint and painful symptoms is not limited to teenagers. Adults often experience the same thing.

Self Help For TMJ Pain

TMJ problems can cause headache (even migraine-like), facial pain, neck pain, jaw pain and even changes in hearing. If you are experiencing these symptoms a visit to a dentist who has training and experience in treating these issues is needed. Until you can see the dentist here are a few tips to help ease the discomfort:

  • Alternate hot and cold compresses to the jaw area.
  • Switch to a soft diet – avoid eating anything harder than cooked pasta. This especially means avoiding salad greens and raw vegetables of any kind.
  • Stifle your yawns, avoid opening your mouth wide.
  • Check your posture. Avoid holding a phone between shoulder and ear and women should stop carrying heavy shoulder bags.
  • Don’t rest your chin on your hand.
  • Over-the-counter medications like Motrin or Tylenol may help.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA for more information and to schedule a TMJ consultation appointment. We can be reached at 706-886-9439.

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