Chewing gums or piercing can lead to jaw problems and headaches

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Chewing gums or piercing can lead to jaw problems and headaches

Teenagers’ extensive chewing of gum and use of piercing jewelry in the mouth or lips can lead to increased problems such as tenderness in the temporomandibular joints and chewing muscles, headaches and difficulty opening wide.

This is according to a recent study at Sahlgrenska Academy, done on high school students.

In a new study at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, the use of chewing gum and oral piercing jewelry among young people was investigated, and was checked if there were any links to the existence of problems with pain and temporomandibular disorders.

“Our results showed a clear link between frequent use of chewing gum and headaches, but also with difficulty opening wide and tenderness of the temporomandibular joints and chewing muscles,” said Christina Mejersjö, senior dentist and researcher at Sahlgrenska Academy.

More headaches

A similar relationship was seen between piercings and jaw problems.

“Students with oral piercing had significantly more headaches and tenderness of the chewing muscles,” said Christina Mejersjö.

Even nail biting could be linked to headaches.

124 students from the third year of different high school programs were included in the study. They answered a questionnaire about symptoms in the jaws and the head, as well as on conscious parafunctions such as tooth clenching, tongue thrusting, nail biting, chewing gum use and others.

There was also a clinical examination of the temporomandibular system of 116 of the students.

Pain and jaw dysfunction

One quarter of the students, 24%, used chewing gum on a daily basis and most of them did so for several hours per day. 14% of the students had oral piercing jewelry, and both chewing gum use and piercing jewelry was much more common in girls than boys.

Pain and jaw dysfunction commonly occurred. Symptoms with frequency of once a week or more were reported for headaches by 39% of the students, clicking by 18%, 7% reported facial pain and 6% had difficulty opening wide.

Girls had more symptoms

“Girls had significantly more and more severe symptoms than boys in terms of both reported symptoms and clinical symptoms,” said Christina Mejersjö.

The explanation for the links that were seen in the study might be that both chewing gum and oral piercing jewelry cause increased strain on the temporomandibular system, which contributes to repetitive strain injuries in the temporomandibular system.

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News source: University of Gothenburg. The content is edited for length and style purposes.
Figure legend: This Knowridge.com image is credited to University of Gothenburg.