Each participant in the study suffered from chronic migraines or tension headaches, and chewed gum daily?with the time spent on that habit ranging between and hour and six hours or more each. Dr. Watemberg asked each patient to quit chewing gum for a month, and saw that 19 of the 30 patients reported that their headaches went away entirely, while seven reported a decrease in the intensity and frequency of headaches.
Next, Dr. Watemberg asked the patients to resume gum chewing for two weeks?and, of the 26 who agreed, all participants reported a return of their symptoms within days. Previous studies have linked childhood headaches to stress, tiredness, lack of sleep, heat, video games, noise, sunlight, smoking, missed meals, and menstruation. Other studies that have linked gum chewing to headaches offer differing explanations?one argued stress on the temporomandibular joint, while another argued that the the aspartame used to sweeten the gum was the source.
If you have young patients come in who chew lots of gum and suffer from headaches, consider recommending that they quit chewing gum. It?s easy advice to give, a simple habit to break, and a great way to score brownie points with both your younger patients and with their parents.