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article imageStudy: Why chewing gum causes headaches, migraines

By David Silverberg     Dec 20, 2013 in Health
An Israeli study found that 87 percent of teens who quit chewing gum experience significant relief from problematic headaches.
Dr. Nathan Watemberg of Tel Aviv University-affiliated Meir Medical Center discovered teens who chew gum often give themselves headaches. His findings, published in Pediatric Neurology, "could help treat countless cases of migraine and tension headaches in adolescents without the need for additional testing or medication," this release explains.
Dr. Watemberg noticed that many patients who reported headaches at the Center were daily gum chewers. Teenage girls were particularly avid chewers.
As the release explains, Dr. Watemberg found that in many cases, when patients stopped chewing gum at his suggestion, they got substantially better.
"Out of our 30 patients, 26 reported significant improvement, and 19 had complete headache resolution," said Dr. Watemberg. "Twenty of the improved patients later agreed to go back to chewing gum, and all of them reported an immediate relapse of symptoms."
So why does chewing gum cause head pain? Previous studies have looked at how gum chewing causes stress to the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, the area where the jaw meets the skull.
Chewing gum causes unnecessary wear and tear of the cartilage that acts as a shock absorbent in the jaw joints, which can lead to pain and discomfort, Dr. Ben Kim, who is not not involved in the study, told the website Medical Daily, as we learn here.
Dr. Watemberg puts his weight behind the TMJ evidence. "Every doctor knows that overuse of the TMJ will cause headaches," said Dr. Watemberg. "I believe this is what's happening when children and teenagers chew gum excessively."
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