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Can Chewing Gum Cause Migraine Headaches?

February 3, 2014

Migraine headaches are common in childhood and become more frequent during adolescence. Typical triggers like stress, lack of sleep, heat, too much video games, loud noise, sunlight exposure, missed and infrequent meals, and menstruation are present in most teenagers’ lives. Now, a study suggests that chewing gum can cause migraine headaches too.

Migraine Headaches Traced to Chewing Gum

Findings reported by Dr. Nathan Watemberg of Tel Aviv University-affiliated Meir Medical Center that were published in Pediatric Neurology show that at Meir Medical Center's Child Neurology Unit and Child Development Center and community clinics, many patients who reported headaches were daily gum chewers. Female teenagers were particularly avid chewers -- a finding supported by previous dental studies.

Thirty patients between six and 19 years old who had chronic migraine or tension headaches and chewed gum daily were told to quit chewing gum for one month. They had chewed gum for at least an hour up to more than six hours per day. Dr. Watemberg found that in many cases, when patients stopped chewing gum at his suggestion, they got substantially better.

After a month without gum, 19 of the 30 patients reported that their headaches went away entirely and seven reported a decrease in the frequency and intensity of headaches. To test the results, 26 of them agreed to resume gum chewing for two weeks. All of them reported a return of their symptoms within days.

This test shows that 87% of gum-chewing teenagers who suffer regular headaches could cure themselves by giving up chewing gum.

Chewing Gum Triggers TMJ

Can Chewing Gum Cause Migraines

Can Chewing Gum Cause Migraines

There were two other previous studies that linked chewing gum to headaches with different causes: aspartame and TMJ. Most dentists favor the TMJ causal link.

Overuse of the TMJ muscle can lead to migraine headaches. There are other causes of TMJ, like bad posture, but chewing gum can add more stress especially if done for more than an hour each day.

Many patients may need orthodontic care, bridgework, or reconstruction of poor occlusion (bite) to permanently retain the results of relief from TMJ pain. This is a vital phase of treatment that many ‘TMJ specialists’ are not trained or competent to offer. Dr. Reese is a member of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain and has been practicing dentistry for over 25 years. If you are still suffering from migraine headaches even after stopping chewing gum, please call Dr. Reese’s office at 317-882-0228 and ask for a TMJ consultation. We are located just north of Greenwood, Indiana on US 31 in Indianapolis.