As some of you know, I had jaw surgery earlier this year to correct a bulging disc in my joint. It was only after about 15 years of jaw issues, chiropractor visits, acupuncture, dietary changes and two procedures to flush out the joint that we made the decision to have the mandibular osteotomy done. My jaw had dislocated multiple times, landing me in the emergency room, having to be sedated each time so they could put my jaw back in place. I couldn’t even chew food anymore. It wasn’t a fun time.
But my jaw is doing really well now, about nine months later.
Post-surgery, my doc said, “No chewing gum.” I said, “For how long??” And he replied, “Never.”
I have been a gum-chewer since as far back as I can remember. I love chewing gum. I like having fresh breath. All the time.
No more gum?? Ever??
I went through a period of mourning and then resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be chewing gum anymore.
And it got me thinking: how bad is gum for your jaw?
It must be pretty bad if my surgeon said never to chew it again. It wasn’t like he said I could have it once a week, or even occasionally. He said never.
Well, friends, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but gum is bad for your jaw.
- Chewing gum puts stress on the shock-absorbing cartilage in your jaw joints. Stress + cartilage = not good. By chewing gum, your jaw muscles repeatedly tighten, which can lead to chronic headaches.
- Chewing gum can cause a muscle imbalance if you tend to chew on one side more than the other. Heard of TMJ (a.k.a. TMD or TMJD)? Well, gum-chewing causes overuse of your muscles, which can lead to chronic pain like TMJ.
- Chewing gum causes increased wear and tear on the cartilage surrounding the jaw joints.
Just think about it: our mouths were not made for chewing constantly. We were not intended to be chewing gum all day, then chewing our meals, then chewing some more gum. We need to give our jaws a rest.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we see so many people suffering from chronic headaches, neck tension, chronic jaw clicking and popping and so many other jaw-related issues. We’re tiring our poor jaws out.
So, if you have issues with your jaw–clicking, popping, tightness…grinding your teeth at night…headaches and/or neck pain, consider cutting out gum altogether, and see if it makes a difference for you!