Delicious in your mouth, disgusting on your shoes — chewing gum has an erratic reputation. Although it has oral and mental benefits, studies also show that chewing gum too much may contribute to sore gums. Excessive gum chewing can even lead to a more serious condition: temporomandibular disorder or TMD.
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Chewing gum can relieve stress when done in moderation, according to Fox News. Occasional gum chewing gives smokers an oral fixation and helps dieters break bad snacking habits. In 2009, CNN reported a study by the Baylor College of Medicine demonstrating a link between chewing gum and improved academic performance. Chewing gum also serves as a quick way to freshen breath and reduce plaque.
Excessive gum chewing can cause jaw soreness, muscle fatigue, sore gums and muscle spasms, according to FoxNews. It can also lead to temporomandibular joint disorder, also called TMJ or TMD. However, the National Institute of Health reported a study by the Department of Orthodontics at the University of Naples Federico II in Italy in which patients without an existing jaw disorder, such as TMD, recovered quickly after 40 minutes of vigorous gum chewing.
Prevent gum fatigue by limiting daily gum chewing activities, recommends FoxNews. Swap gum chewing for other stress-relieving activities, including exercise and breathing techniques. Highly stressed individuals may chew harder than non-stressed individuals, so be aware of how vigorously you chew, according to FoxNews. Relax as you chew gum to avoid sore jaws.
Dr. Douglas Sinn, an oral surgeon at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, says the effects of gum chewing can go beyond gums to cause pain in the head and neck. He calls chronic gum chewing to relieve stress a "vicious cycle" wherein stressed individuals chew too hard and cause gum fatigue or soreness, which continues the stress.
If you have a sore gums from excessive chewing, take a gum-free break and allow your jaw to rest, recommends UT Southwestern Medical. If pain, soreness or discomfort persist, see your dentist or oral hygienist. If you have persistent pain in your neck, jaw, head and back, accompanied by a clicking sound when you open your mouth, you should ask your dentist about TMD or TMJ.