Today, I want to talk to you about something that may have a massive impact on your health and you aren’t even aware of it. If you look at our patient testimonial section, we’ve had great outcomes with treating chronic headaches, chronic indigestion, digestion issues, and even some TMJ disorders by helping people realize the detrimental effects of chronic gum chewing. Now people will say, “Well wait a minute, that’s not a problem,” but if you just think about the mechanics, when you’re using that area all the time, there’s a shock absorber up in your temporal mandibular joint that can wear out. If you do wear it out, sometimes this can cause a lifetime of pain and discomfort.
You have eight different facial muscles that chew, and the unnecessary chewing of gum can create chronic tightness in two of those muscles located close to your temples. This can put pressure on the nerves that supply this area and can lead to chronic intermittent headaches.
It can affect digestion because you have six salivary glands located throughout your mouth that are stimulated to produce and release saliva. Producing continual saliva isn’t good for your digestive system, because one, it can dilute your stomach acids, and two, if it’s on an empty stomach, it doesn’t have anything to do and can cause some gastritis and irritation.
Now, most chewing gum is sweetened with aspartame, and the long-term use of aspartame has been linked to risk factors associated with cancer, diabetes, neurologic disorders, and even birth defects. If your gum isn’t sweetened with aspartame, it’s probably sweetened with regular refined white sugar, and the intake of sugar is probably the most likely single greatest dietary cause of chronic health challenges. One of our recommended readings for getting and restoring your health is Suicide by Sugar. Now, people that chew gum regularly may be using it as a stress displacer or a way to work off nervous energy, which means that the root cause of the anxiety isn’t being addressed. Some other techniques like yoga, meditation, journaling, walking, or other holistic de-stress activities can really help get rid of those gum chewing cravings.
Most gum is made from synthetic polymers, latex, and can be really hard on your digestive system if you accidentally swallow it. Chewing gum every once in a while isn’t a problem for most people, but those that have challenges with headaches and digestion may be better off to take a gum vacation.
To your energy, balance, and longevity,
Dr. Jason West