It’s natural to chew gum to ease tension, but excessive or continual chewing can cause jaw pain and, extremely rarely, temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
The benefits of chewing gum are numerous. Gum chewing also increases saliva production, which aids in the removal of harmful plaque. Some gums with the sweetener xylitol have even been said to prevent cavities. Is there any reason to avoid chewing gum given all these advantages?
Our jaw muscles are used when we chew gum, and just like any other muscle group in the body that is overworked, excessive gum chewing can wear down these muscles and produce excruciating spasms in our jaw, neck, and head. This disease is known as temporomandibular dysfunction.
Dental health and chewing gum
The American Dental Association (ADA) advises that for individuals with otherwise good dental health, chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals can help prevent cavities. However, chewing gum is not advised for individuals with certain oral health issues or dental procedures.
Sugar-free gum increases salivation, which helps wash away leftover food particles and balances oral bacterial acid production. Despite the advantages of sugar-free chewing gum, regular brushing and flossing should always be practised. Even if you often chew gum after meals or snacks, the American Dental Association (ADA) advises brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day.
TMJ and gum-chewing
It should be mentioned that the ADA also advises people with TMJ to refrain from chewing gum. Extended or repetitive gum chewing can tighten the jaw muscles and exacerbates the clicking and discomfort of even mild temporomandibular joint disease.
One of the most painful and frequently reported signs of TMJ is the occurrence of severe, recurrent headaches. Gum chewing can further strain muscles and joints that are already near their breaking point as a result of one of these underlying issues.
Methods to stop jaw pain caused by chewing gum
The first action is straightforward: quit chewing gum if it is causing jaw pain! However, there are more things you may take to stop the onset of a chronic TMD.
Jaw Rest: Start a soft food diet for a few weeks and refrain from chewing gum and other hard meals.
Physical therapy: Easy mobility drills will hasten the recovery from jaw tension.
Splinting: To prevent muscular hyperactivity and promote healing, it is crucial to employ an anterior bite splint (oral appliance) at night.
Reduced Tension and Strain: Chewing gum can help relieve stress. You can experiment with stress-relieving techniques like brief walks, meditation, or targeted breathing exercises.
Gum chewing can affect your dental health in both positive and bad ways, depending on whether you do it to relieve stress or to freshen your breath. You probably don’t consider how chewing gum affects your jaw when you’re doing it. To avoid particular oral health issues, it is important to be aware of the impacts of chewing gum.