Chewing gum can give teens headaches

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Chewing gum has been linked to headaches.

You can find gum just about anywhere: under tables, desks, chairs, and even on the bottom of your shoe. While it’s a headache scraping off gum someone else gnawed on, it might actually be the source of a migraine when you’re the one chewing! According to researchers from Tel Aviv University, chewing gum could be the cause of teenage migraines.

The study focused on 30 teenageers who suffered from severe headaches. They were divided into groups based on how frequently they chewed gum, and then all of them were asked to stop scarfing that sticky pink goodness for a whole month. Once the month was over, the teens were allowed to chomp on bubblegum again as scientists monitored their habits for 2-4 weeks.

During the gum-free month, 26 of the teens reported an improvement in their headaches, while 19 stopped suffering from them altogether. After they started chewing again, more than 60% of the teens experienced headaches once again! How do researchers explain the return of the headaches?

Well, past studies have created their own versions for the cause. One study claims that aspartame – artificial (man-made) sugar used in products like soda and chewing gum – are to blame for raging headaches. Others claim that the constant chewing motion needed to properly enjoy the sweet treat places a huge strain on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) – the place where the jaw and skull meet. After a while, this stress eventually causes a headache.

According to researcher Dr. Nathan Watemberg, who is affiliated with Tel Aviv University, joint strain is the most likely cause behind head pain. “Every doctor knows that overuse of the TMJ will cause headaches,” Watemberg said in a statement. “I believe this is what’s happening when children and teenagers chew gum excessively.”

Maybe mints are a better option for fighting bad breath!

Featured image courtesy of Chelsea Nesvig on Flickr. Image of chewing gum courtesy of Nomadic Lass on Flickr.