According to a study of teenagers who chew gum regularly, 19 out of the 30 subjects found that their chronic headaches stopped completely when they stopped chewing gum. This study focused on teenagers, but the same concept can be applied to adults who frequently chew gum and frequently have tension headaches.
Headaches themselves can come from different sources. Tension headaches specifically occur when the muscles around the jaw remain tense for a long time. They can be irritated by different things, including grinding your teeth, eating chewy food, or chewing gum.
When you chew for an extended period of time, you overwork the muscles in your jaw, and even in your head. That’s because there are muscles all the way up to your temple that control the chewing process. When they become overworked, they will get sore and this will lead to a tension headache. This is a common problem for many people who chew gum, but it can also occur for people who eat tough and chewy foods like bagels, Rice Krispies treats, and steak or pork chops.
What to Do
If you chew gum or eat the chewy foods often and you deal with tension headaches, you can do a little detective work on your own to determine if what you are putting in your mouth is the culprit. Simply nix the gum and try avoiding those specific foods for a week or so. If you notice that the headaches go away, then you will know that you are causing the problem with your chewing choices. It really can be that simple of a fix.
However, if the headaches continue and you have other types of jaw pain, it may be time to see a professional. You could have TMD (tempromandibular disorder), which is a condition that causes problems with your jaw and the hinge where it meets your head. Of course, if you have other types of headaches that are chronic or do not seem to be controlled by over the counter medication, then visit a medical doctor. There could be another reason for the discomfort.
While chewing gum is a favorite pastime, stress reliever, and distraction, it can also be a pain, literally. If you suffer from tension headaches that are related to chewing gum, it may be time to give up the habit so that you can enjoy some relief.