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Is Gum Safe to Chew When You Have TMJ?

Posted on 5/30/2017 by Clackamas Oral Surgery Office
A patient at Clackamas Implant & Oral Surgery Center suffering from severe tmj jaw pain.
Chewing gum is a common habit. Sugar-free gum, in particular, is known to aid in dental health. By chewing sugar-free gum, you stimulate saliva production which helps to kill harmful oral bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay. Certain varieties can even promote fresher breath. But what about if you have TMJ disorder?

What is TMJ?

Your temporomandibular joint is the point at which your lower jaw connects to your skull. The joint allows for the movement of your jaw - opening and closing your mouth, eating, speaking, moving your jaw from side to side. When the joint becomes irritated and inflamed, a condition known as TMJ disorder.

There are several causes of TMJ disorder:

•  Facial trauma.
•  Bruxism (grinding and clenching of your teeth).
•  Arthritis (osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis).
•  Misaligned teeth.
•  Stress.

Symptoms of TMJ

There are several symptoms of TMJ, including:

•  Jaw pain.
•  Facial pain.
•  Difficulty opening your mouth.
•  Pain while chewing.
•  Clicking and popping.
•  Headaches or earaches.

How Chewing Gum Aggravates TMJ

Symptoms of TMJ are worsened when the joint is overused, or aggravated. Chewing gum requires you to continuously chew, which quickly exhausts the muscles of your mouth, as well as the joint. And when the joint is tired, you will feel significant pain. You may even experience migraine headaches.

Treating TMJ

The first thing you should do to alleviate TMJ pain is to avoid chewing gum, or any other foods that can cause irritation (anything chewy, sticky, hard, or oversized). Next, contact your dentist. Your dentist can help you to learn the cause of your TMJ pain, and help you take steps to avoid future pain. In some instances, surgery may be required for successful treatment.

TMJ can cause you significant pain, and can diminish your quality of life. Chewing gum is one way to avoid the pain associated with the disorder.

Contact us at 503-662-8744 to learn about your treatment options! Our team is here to help!

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