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The Connection Between Gum Chewing and TMJ Pain
Posted on 1/30/2019 by Dr. Chad Rebhun
Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ (also called TMD) can be a very disruptive condition because it causes mild to severe jaw pain. Feeling pain can interfere with everyday tasks and alter the focus you need to perform at work or school. Pain also leads to poor quality of life and even mental health problems like depression.
Can Chewing Gum Cause TMJ?
It is not clear what causes TMJ, but some scientific studies suggest things like chewing gum could bring on the uncomfortable condition. These conclusions are supported by the American Dental Association (ADA) recommendation that people who suffer from TMJ avoid chewing gum or other repetitive bad habits such as biting your nails or any hard object.
The temporomandibular joints sit on either side of your face, by the ears and they allow your jaw to open and close. When there is a misalignment of the jaw or a problem with your bite, the jaw could click or pop every time you open or shut your mouth to eat or yawn.
Chewing gum for an extended time can tire the jaw and exacerbate the symptoms of TMJ. This will leave your jawbone feeling tired and sore. The pain can be mild or severe, depending on the underlying problem.
How to Treat TMJ
Other than avoiding gum chewing or hard foods, there are several things we can recommend for treating TMJ.
Using a mouthguard to relax the jaw during sleep
Relaxation techniques such as meditation
TENS therapy that uses electric waves
While chewing sugar-free gum after meals can help your oral health when you don't have access to a toothbrush, you should avoid this habit if you suffer from TMJ. Most people who suffer from this condition recover in time, and eventually, the jawbone falls back into place. In the meantime, avoid aggravating the situation by chewing gum.
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