Researchers at Tel Aviv University wondered if teens who experience migraine headaches were actually increasing the amount of headaches they got based on their gum chewing habits.
The study looked at 25 teen girls and five teen boys, with a median age of 16, who all got chronic headaches (most of them migraine-like). They were put into 4 groups based on the amount of time they spent chewing gum every day. They were then all asked to stop chewing gum for one month. At the end of the month, 26 of them began chewing gum again, and then researchers checked in with them 2 to 4 weeks later.
For the month that the teens stopped chewing gum, 26 of them said they had improvement in their headache symptoms, with 19 of them saying their headaches stopped completely. When the teens started up the habit after the month was over, 20 of them saw their headaches return.
While one previous study found that gum-chewing can lead to headaches because of stress placed on the temporomandibular joint (where the skull and jaw meet), another earlier study suggested the aspartame in gum leads to headaches. However, study researcher Dr. Nathan Watemberg, of Meir Medical Center, which is affiliated with Tel Aviv University, noted that he believes the probable reason for the headache-gum-chewing link is the stress on the temporomandibular joint.
Watemberg said in a statement, “every doctor knows that overuse of the TMJ will cause headaches. I believe this is what’s happening when children and teenagers chew gum excessively.”
The findings are published in the journal Pediatric Neurology….. huffposthealth 12/19/13