Can Headaches Be Caused by Chewing Gum?

Teenagers have been known to chew a stick of gum or two — thousand. Unfortunately, it seems to be catching up with them. Dr. Nathan Watemberg of Tel Aviv University-affiliated Meir Medical Center reported that gum-chewing teenagers — as well as younger children — are actually giving themselves headaches!

Dr. Watemberg’s results were published in Pediatric Neurology. And he believes that this one simple discovery could potentially help treat countless cases of migraine and tension headaches in adolescents without the need for any other testing or medication.

Headaches are common in childhood and become more common and frequent during adolescence, particularly among girls.

The study found that many patients who reported headaches were daily gum-chewers. Teenage girls were especially active gum-chewers. In many of these cases, when patients stopped chewing gum at their doctor’s suggestion, their condition improved significantly!

Another study suggested that gum-chewing causes stress to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the place where the jaw meets the skull. And yet a third study blamed aspartame, the artificial sweetener used in most popular chewing gums. TMJ dysfunction has been shown to cause headaches, while the evidence is mixed on aspartame at the time this article was written.

Therefore, if teenagers with chronic headaches were to simply stop chewing gum, their symptoms may drastically improve without the need for expensive diagnostic tests or medications.