August 4, 2022
It’s estimated that last year alone, over 1.74 trillion sticks of gum were produced—meaning that almost everybody is chewing it! But even though chewing gum might seem like a small and innocent novelty meant to enjoy, have you ever wondered if it can affect your TMJ disorder? Keep reading to learn more from your dentist about TMJ disorders and how chewing gum can influence and potentially worsen them.
What Exactly Is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ disorder refers to a condition that affects the temporomandibular joints in your jaw, and approximately 10 million Americans are affected by it—making it quite common! Patients who suffer from it experience misalignment or deterioration of these joints due to the surrounding cartilage being worn and destroyed. This cartilage is crucial because it absorbs much of the tension that’s produced when you bite and chew. Symptoms of TMJ disorder usually include:
- Pain in your jaw.
- Difficulty moving your jaw and opening or closing your mouth.
- Popping or clicking noises when you move your mouth or chew.
- Headaches and earaches.
- Bruxism (grinding or clenching your teeth at night).
What Is the Link Between Chewing Gum and TMJ Disorder?
Simply put, your temporomandibular joints are some of the most complex and important joints in your whole body; but sadly, this complexity is also part of what makes them so vulnerable to problems. One such problem can arise from chewing gum! It’s believed that chewing gum creates extra tension and strain on the jaw muscles and temporomandibular joints. The constant motion and frequency of the chewing that occurs with gum expedites the wear and tear on the cartilage surrounding the joints.
Research has further backed this theory; a study from the National Library of Medicine measured two groups of participants: one group that chewed gum throughout the day, and another group that didn’t chew any gum at all. They found that the group who chewed gum experienced symptoms of TMJ disorders more frequently than the group who didn’t chew any gum. So in reality, if you’re already experiencing TMJ disorder, chewing gum will likely put you at a much higher risk of creating serious problems for your jaw.
Should I Stop Chewing Gum If I Have A TMJ Disorder?
Most dentists agree that moderate gum chewing isn’t a problem, but they do recommend taking a break from the habit if you’re experiencing TMJ disorder symptoms including head, neck, or jaw pain. You might also consider taking anti-inflammatory medications or applying a warm compress to the area in pain. Switching to a soft-foods diet might also help. If your pain persists, you should contact your dentist immediately for treatment; TMJ disorders tend to become progressively worse when left untreated!
If you’re experiencing jaw pain and you’re concerned about TMJ disorder, don’t hesitate to spit out your chewing gum and contact your dentist. Although your gum might not be the cause of your jaw issue, it could certainly be worsening it.
About the Author
Wedgewood Complete Dentistry proudly serves patients and families in the Powell, OH area under the leadership of Dr. Ryan Eskridge. Dr. Eskridge completed his dental doctorate at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry and is a member of several professional organizations including the American Dental Association and the Ohio Dental Association. His practice is pleased to offer many available services including TMJ therapy. If you have any questions about the article or would like to schedule a visit, feel free to contact the practice online or by phone: (614) 792-0063.
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