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May 18, 2022

Gum Chewing and TMD: Can It Make Your Disorder Worse?

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_olsen @ 4:23 pm
Woman with TMJ pain.

You may not have given much thought to how your gum chewing habits could affect your mouth and jaw. However, research suggests that there may be a link between TMJ disorder and regular gum chewing. So, whether you like to smack on gum to freshen your breath, stave off hunger, or reduce stress, here’s how it could potentially contribute to the development of TMJ disorder in Ann Arbor.

What is TMJ Disorder?

TMJ Disorder, also referred to as TMD (temporomandibular dysfunction) affects the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) in your jaw. People who suffer from TMD experience misalignment or deterioration of the joint due to the degeneration of cartilage. This cartilage is important for absorbing the tension produced when we chew. Without it, people can experience symptoms like:

  • Popping or clicking when you open your mouth or chew
  • Pain in and around the jaw
  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
  • Headaches
  • Earaches

The Link Between Chewing Gum and TMD

So how does chewing gum have anything to do with TMD? Researchers conducted a study to address this question—they studied two groups of subjects, one which chewed gum for 30, 60, or 120 minutes in a day and another that did not chew gum. The research team then documented signs and symptoms of TMD in the participants.

The results? The occurrence of clicking and pain in participants who chewed gum regularly was higher than the group that didn’t chew gum.

Why Can Chewing Gum Worsen TMD?

It’s believed that chewing gum creates extra tension and puts strain on the jaw muscles and the temporomandibular joint. This means that people who already struggle with TMD could potentially worsen their symptoms, and those without TMD may be at a higher risk of developing the disorder.

Your dentist may recommend that you avoid chewing gum if you experience pain in your jaw, head, or neck. Avoiding the habit can allow the joints and muscles to relax, potentially lessening pain and clicking.

If you struggle with TMD, it may not be a bad idea to consider breaking your gum chewing habit in Ann Arbor. But of course, you should reach out to your dentist to see if TMJ Therapy would be a good option—they will be able to help you find relief faster so you can get back to enjoying your daily life.

About the Author

Dr. James Olsen is an Ann Arbor native passionate about providing the best quality of care to its residents. He received his DDS from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in 1988 and went on to pursue continuing education at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies. He has advanced training in cosmetic, reconstructive, and neuromuscular dentistry and is a member of the American Dental Association, the Michigan Dental Association, and the International College of Cranio-Mandibular Orthopedics. If you have questions or concerns about TMD symptoms, visit his website or give him a call at (734)996-0200.

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