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Chewing gum – is it the source of your head pain?

Could there be a simple fix to your child’s migraines or tension-type headaches? Although there is no known cure for migraine, researchers associated with Tel Aviv University recently found that teenagers who stopped chewing gum also saw a dramatic reduction in headaches. Findings published in Pediatric Neurology by Dr. Nathan Watemberg of Meir Medical Center suggest that chewing gum could be the source of many teens’ headaches.

26 out of 30 patients reported signifiant improvement in symptoms and 19 patients reported complete resolution of their headaches. 20 of the patients who experienced improvement tried chewing gum again, and all of them saw an immediate relapse of symptoms.

There are several theories to why chewing gum may be linked to an increase in headaches. One common theory is based on the the use of aspartame in chewing gum. This artificial sweetener is also a potential migraine trigger, A second theory, which Dr. Watemberg supports, is that chewing gum stresses the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, the place where the jaw meets the skull. TMJ dysfunction is often associated with headaches, including tension-type headaches which can trigger migraines.

What do you think? Did chewing gum – or not chewing it – make a difference in your symptoms?

Wood, J. Chewing Gum Blamed for Many Teens' Migraines. PsychCentral.Com. December 22, 2013. Available at


  • Cindi
    5 years ago

    YES! I learned many years ago that chewing gum often triggered migraines.

  • Dolly Ward Paice
    5 years ago

    I have TMD or TMJ as most call it, and yes, chewing gum is a major contributor to my headaches. I recently had some dental work, that in all actuality was malpractice, resulting in further dental treatment. I ended up going to a facial pain doctor who explained everything.

    Apparently, migraine sufferers are predisposed genetically to pain and that we all have a nerve, the Trigeminal nerve that can affect you in your mouth, head and neck/shoulder muscles. Mentioning this nerve, I don’t want to suggest that it is the cause to migraines, just mine in this instance.

    Unfortunately, I sometimes can’t even tell what triggered my migraines, just a “regular” one, if I may call it that or if it’s triggered from my TMD.

  • kajsa
    5 years ago

    I haven’t been able to chew gum without courting a headache since high school. TMJ issues are definitely a trigger for me; I’ve had TMJ / tension headaches turn into migraines many times, though thankfully not always. I also clench my jaw (not grind my teeth) when I’m focussing hard (unless I catch myself at it), which doesn’t help.

    I’m slowly learning that for the really bad combination migraine + TMJ, I really need to take both Imitrex and Flexiril, and lay down with my ice pack. If I try to threat only one of them, the migraine will inevitably return.

  • L. Kersten
    5 years ago

    Chewing gum helps me sometimes, for it relaxes my jaws.

  • auntie
    5 years ago

    Interesting – I recently went to a new periodontist as mine had retired. The new periodontist did a thorough preliminarily exam and medical history on my first visit. He seemed very interested in my migraine history, and suggested perhaps TMJ issues might be a migraine factor & referred me to a physiotherapist that specializes is TMJ issues. I am just starting therapy with the physiotherapist – but one of her first suggestions is to give up my major gum habit! I picked up the gum habit several years ago when I quit smoking…. now that I think about it, about the same time that my once a month migraines became my 3 or 4 times a week migraines!

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