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01Sep
2015
0
Is Chewing Gum Giving Your Kid a Headache?

Is Chewing Gum Giving Your Kid a Headache?

Does your child or teen complain of frequent headaches? Do they often chew gum? There could be a connection. Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal is often seen as being a healthy habit as the action of chewing helps to stimulate saliva flow, reducing acidity in the mouth and helping to wash away excess bacteria and food particles. The effect can be further enhanced if the chewing gum contains xylitol, an ingredient found to help inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Why Chewing Gum for More than a Few Minutes Can Be Problematic

While chewing gum for a few minutes after each meal might be healthy, chewing it for hours on end may cause problems. It’s been found that children and teenagers chewing gum may be giving themselves headaches. Chewing gum could potentially cause tension headaches and migraines in adolescents and it might be that something as simple as stopping this habit will be enough to relieve the symptoms without the need for medication or additional tests.

A Recent Study Showed Interesting Results

A study carried out in Tel Aviv University a couple of years ago found that teenagers and younger children who chewed gum were giving themselves headaches. In fact headaches are quite common in childhood, particularly during adolescence and girls are more likely to suffer than boys. These headaches may be triggered by stress, lack of sleep, tiredness, playing video games, menstruation, missing meals or smoking but up until fairly recently no connection was made between chewing gum and headaches. The study in Tel Aviv looked at 30 patients aged between six and 19 years old who chewed gum every day for at least an hour and up to six hours and who had chronic tension or migraine headaches. Just one month after stopping the habits, 19 out of 30 of the patients reported their headaches had gone away while seven noticed they didn’t get headaches so frequently and they weren’t so intense.

How Could Chewing Gum Cause Headaches?

Chewing gum places a lot of stress on the temporomandibular joints and the muscles responsible for moving these joints. These are the joints that hinge the lower jaw and if they become stressed and the muscles become inflamed then it can cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms, including headaches. The temporomandibular joints are some of the most used joints in the body. Just recently, a woman in the UK who chewed sugar-free gum for up to seven hours a day was found to have worn out her jaw and she now faces major surgery to fix it. Her gum chewing habit had over used the jaw muscles, causing a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD.

Monitor Your Kid and Visit Kids Denistry Center

If your kid does have chronic headaches and perhaps has a gum chewing habit then it might be worth them stopping for a while to see if things improve. At the same time, mention it to our pediatric dentists next time you visit the Kids Dentistry Center just in case they have caused some damage to their temporomandibular joints.

 

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Dr. Marina Krepkh
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Brooklyn, NY 11209 (Bay Ridge)
(718) 491-5300

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