If your little one loves chewing gum but also complains of headaches, we’ve got news for you. A recent study suggests a link between the two — especially in young children. The research published in Pediatric Neurology showed the effects of chewing gum on 30 kids who complained of chronic headaches. The same kids also chewed gum from one to six hours per day. When they stopped chewing gum, 19 reported that their headaches went away completely. Seven others said their head pain was less frequent or less intense. Once they returned to chewing, the same 26 children said their headaches returned!
But why would chewing gum cause headaches? Good question. We believe the pain has to do with your jaw joint, also known as the TMJ, or temporomandibular joint. The repeated motion of chewing puts stress on the TMJ, where the jaw meets the skull. Over time, this continuous pressure can cause chronic pain in adults and children.
The news about headaches and chewing gum may be disappointing for people who are aware of the cavity-fighting benefits of popping a piece of sugar free gum in your mouth after a meal or during the day. Aside from causing head pain, chewing gum stimulates saliva flow to help wash away bacteria and food particles that collect and cause tooth decay and gum disease. But if chewing gum is causing you or your little one to have headaches, there are other ways to prevent oral problems like decay and infection.
How to Freshen Breath During The Day Without Chewing Gum
For fresher breath during the day without associated head pain, make sure you stay hydrated. Saliva flow drops in the long hours between meals, giving bacteria the opportunity to multiply and cause bad breath. But staying hydrated by sipping pure H2O throughout the day will help to wash away the things that cause the foul odor, for a cleaner mouth and fresher breath. Toss a reusable water bottle into your child’s backpack and your own day bag as a reminder to stay hydrated throughout the day.
The snacks you choose between meals can also improve the way your breath smells. Fresh, crunchy apples are hydrating and also naturally scrub away the bacteria that causes foul odors, tooth decay, and gum disease. Celery, carrots, and other raw fruits and vegetables have the same effect. Crunching your way through an afternoon snack can help you breath fresher without putting undue strain on your TMJ.
If your little one cares more about the flavor of gum than the benefits of fresh breath, try switching the chewing habit for sugar-free breath mints or other hard candies. They’re a tasty treat that stimulate saliva flow without overworking the jaw.
Do you have questions about chewing gum, or any doubts about your or your child’s oral health? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Chaska Dental Center. We are here for you and those you love most. Schedule an appointment with your family dentist in Chaska today!