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Chewing gum can cause headaches, study claims

Chewing gum may cause headaches in children and teens. (Thinkstock)It's not the sort of news that any bubble gum lover wants to hear, but new research shows that chewing gum among teens and children may cause headaches.

That's right, you can now add gum to the long list of bizarre things that can trigger a headache, including sex, lightning and ponytails.

A recent study, published in the journal Pediatric Neurology, suggests that teenagers and children could prevent migraine and tension headaches without the need for additional testing or medication simply by eliminating chewing gum.

Researchers from from Tel Aviv University in Israel looked at 30 participants aged 6-19 (25 girls, 5 boys) who had chronic migraine or tension headaches and chewed gum daily. They asked the participants to quit chewing gum for one month and tracked the results.

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"Out of our 30 patients, 26 reported significant improvement, and 19 had complete headache resolution," says lead author Dr. Nathan Watemberg.

After one month of not chewing gum, 20 participants who reported improved symptoms were asked to go back to chewing gum daily. All of them reported an immediate return of their symptoms.

The researchers speculate the cause of the headaches could be due to strain on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) -- where the skull and jaw meet -- as suggested by a previous study. However, they dismiss blame being placed on aspartame, the artificial sweetener used in most popular chewing gums, as suggested by another prior study.

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"Every doctor knows that overuse of the TMJ will cause headaches," Watemberg says. "I believe this is what's happening when children and teenagers chew gum excessively."

Headaches among children occur with greater frequency as they become teens. The researchers reference a survey that found that 84 per cent of high school students suffered from reoccurring headaches.

To learn how dental health influences your overall health, check out the video below.

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