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Gum Chewing and Headaches

Gum chewing is occasionally recommended for children as part of a sensory diet therefore I thought this research regarding gum chewing and headaches was important to mention.  Pediatric Neurology will be publishing research on 30 patients between 6-19 years old who had chronic or migraine headaches and chewed gum daily.  The medical doctor, Dr. Watemburg, requested that the patients stop chewing gum for one month.  The following results were recorded:

  • 19 of the 30 patients reported that the headaches went away entirely
  • 7 of the 30 patients reported a decrease in frequency and intensity of headaches

To further test the results, 26 of the 30 patients resumed gum chewing for two weeks and all of them reported a return of their symptoms within days.

The researcher concluded that gum chewing causes an overuse of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) resulting in headaches. 

Now, this is a very small study but interesting.  I happen to be a gum chewer and never experience headaches from it.  But, I only chew gum for short periods of time several times per day.  In addition, when I have recommended gum chewing for children on a sensory diet or to improve focus, I have never had reports of headaches.  

Just some information to keep in the back of your mind after you recommend gum chewing for a child on a sensory diet.  Perhaps inform the parents that headaches may be a side effect of excessive gum chewing. 

How about you?  Do you find that children occasionally get headaches from chewing gum?

Reference: American Friends of Tel Aviv University (2013, December 19). Chewing gum is often culprit for migraine headaches in teens. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2013/12/131219130937.htm