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Bruce M. MacNicol, DDS, MS, FRCD (C)
Michael T. Jackson, BA, DDS, MSc, FRCD (C)
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Is Chewing Gum Good or Bad for Your Jaw?

Posted on 10/30/2016 by Tricia Ramsay
A woman about to chew a piece of gum.
Chewing gum, the sugar-free variety, has long been praised for its benefits for healthy teeth. The act of chewing stimulates saliva production, which is important to healthy teeth. Saliva washes away food particles and contains bacterial fighting enzymes.

Xylitol, the artificial sweetener used to sweeten sugar-free gum, helps prevent bacteria from sticking to the surface of your teeth.

Both of these help to prevent tooth decay. But, while chewing sugar-free gum is good for your teeth, is healthy for your jaw?

Chewing uses eight facial muscles. Two of these muscles are located near your temples. Constant chewing tightens the muscles, placing pressure on the nerves at the temples, which can lead to chronic headaches.

Jaw Pain

Chewing requires a lot of jaw movement. All of the extra pressure can lead to jaw pain. You also put a lot of wear on your teeth. Continual, unnecessary, wear can loosen them in their sockets, harming the health of your jaw.


Chewing gum can be particularly harmful if you suffer from temporomandibular disorder (TMD). This is a condition that affects your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the joint at which your upper and lower jaws meet. It allows you to open your mouth as well as move your lower jaw from side to side. While the exact cause is unknown, TMD can cause severe jaw pain, facial pain and headaches.

The extra movement involved with chewing gum exacerbates these symptoms. You may experience excruciating jaw pain, which can also be a result of aggravated cartilage from extra wear, as well as popping and even dislocation.

Chewing gum can freshen your breath and help keep your teeth clean and healthy, but it can cause some severe problems, especially if you suffer from TMD. A regular brushing routine can give you the same benefits as chewing gum. If gum causes you pain, contact our office.

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