Xylitol, the artificial sweeter used in sugar-free gum is also excellent for preventing bacteria from sticking to the surface of your teeth. So chewing gum on a regular basis is a good idea, right? If your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) hurts, you may want to think again.
What is the TMJ?The temporomandibular joint is the point, or hinge, that connects your upper and lower jaws. It allows you to open your mouth wide and move your lower jaw from side to side.
It also allows you to chew and speak. When the joint becomes irritated and inflamed, a condition known as temporomandibular disorder (TMD), it can affect your ability to do these unavoidable tasks.
Symptoms of TMDThere are several symptoms of TMD, including:
|•||Difficulty opening your mouth. This includes eating and speaking, as well as yawning.|
|•||Clicking and popping while chewing.|
|•||Your jaw may lock open.|
|•||Headaches and/or earaches.|
How is Gum Bad?
Gum requires a lot of chewing. All of this extra, unnecessary, motion puts extra stress and pressure on the TMJ. If the joint is already irritated and inflamed, more chewing is only going to cause more irritation and inflammation.
What Can You Do?
While gum is great for freshening breath and helping to rid your mouth of harmful bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, there are other ways to achieve these goals without the extra chewing. Brushing your teeth regularly and flossing, as well as visiting your dentist at least twice a year for exams and cleanings can produce the same results.
When your TMJ hurts, don't irritate it further with all of the extra chewing that comes with gum. And be sure to contact our office about what you can do to fix TMD and stop the pain for good.