Whether they are on the move in a car, plane, or at school, teens are most likely to reach into their backpacks for a pack of gum. The impulsive behavior to chew gum is particularly done between meals in the morning and the afternoon. While one to two sticks of gum may seem harmless, a new study shows that excessive gum-chewing could be a detrimental habit to teen health. Furthermore, the study indicates that migraine headache symptoms in teens are made worse by chewing gum.
In the study, published in the journal Pediatric Neurology, patients were divided into four groups, depending on their number of daily hours of gum chewing.
- Group 1 consisted of six teenagers who spent up to one hour of gum-chewing a day.
- Group 2 was comprised of 11 kids who spent one to three hours chewing gum.
- Group 3 had eight kids who totaled three to six hours of gum chewing a day.
- Group 4 had five teens who reported to spend more than six hours a day chewing gum.
In the study, the teens stopped chewing gum for a month, 26 were reintroduced to the habit and were then reinterviewed after two to four weeks. The researchers found when the teens stopped chewing gum for that month, 26 of them reported an improvement in their headache symptoms, with 19 claiming they stopped getting headaches altogether. However, when the teens were reintroduced to the habit after the month was over, 20 of them reported debilitating headaches again..
A possible explanation for the association that exists between chewing gum and headaches is the stress placed on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), where the skull and jaw meet. Chewing gum causes unnecessary wear and tear of the cartilage that acts as a shock absorber in the jaw joints, which can lead to pain and discomfort.
Overall, the truth about chewing gum is that it generates jaw stress or pain in the head or neck that could be a sign of TMJ syndrome. Teens who have a history of headaches should avoid excessive gum chewing to prevent worsening of headache symptoms.
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