Chewing Gum: Cause for Migraine Headaches in Teens

It isn’t any surprise that teenagers are notorious for chewing a significant amount of gum. But did you know that chewing gum can be the root cause of headaches, migraines and TMJ pain?
In a recent study done by Tel Aviv University, nearly 87% of teens who quit chewing gum found themselves experiencing significant pain relief.

We’ve all heard of the common triggers for headaches: stress, smoking, missing meals, heat, and lack of sleep. But until now, there has been little research done to link gum chewing to headaches.

Dr. Watemberg, at the Meir Medical Center’s Child Neurology Unit and Child Development Center, noticed that patients who reported headaches were avid gum chewers, teenage girls in particular. He also noticed that once they stopped chewing gum as frequently, the headaches got better.

Other studies have given their own explanations for why headaches are caused by gum chewing. One of these studies say chewing gum puts more stress on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) causing headaches, while the other says, the sweetener aspartame found in most chewing gums, causes headaches.

Dr. Watemberg, says that if aspartame did cause headaches, we would see more patients with more headaches from diet drinks and artificially sweetened products. He also favors the TMJ explanations saying, “Every doctor knows that overuse of the TMJ will cause headaches. I believe this is what’s happening when children and teenagers chew gum excessively.”

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