My dentist told me that it’s best for me not to chew gum because she thinks I have TMJ. I don’t understand why I should not chew gum, and her explanation didn’t make sense. I grind my teeth all day and night. It’s from stress at work and at home. I think that when I chew gum during the day, it will distract me from grinding my teeth. Maybe some of the pain and jaw popping will decrease too if I grind my teeth less. Why wouldn’t it help? Thanks. Lance

Lance,

Although chewing gum can prevent you from grinding your teeth while you’re chewing, it can also make your symptoms worse. You would have to constantly chew gum to prevent grinding your teeth. And that’s not practical or likely. In fact, it can do more harm than good. Consider a few facts about TMJ, chewing gum, and teeth grinding.

TMJ, Chewing Gum, and Teeth Grinding

  • When you chew gum, it affects your facial muscles, including the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
  • Excessive gum chewing can make TMJ disorder worse.
  • Other factors that contribute to the disorder include misaligned teeth and trauma.
  • You should have your teeth, jaw, and bite examined by a dentist who is trained in diagnosing and treating the disorder.
  • A trained dentist will recommend stress-reducing techniques, exercises, and treatment to help you decrease the habit and minimize the effects on your jaw joint.
  • If the problem is left untreated, you can experience an increase in the following symptoms.
    • Jaw joint pain
    • Earaches
    • Headaches
    • Toothaches
    • Jaw popping and clicking
    • Neck pain

When teeth are worn down and damaged from grinding, dental crowns might be needed to protect them. A customized night guard can protect your teeth and crowns.

Schedule a TMJ Consultation

You should definitely stop or limit gum chewing. Don’t try to treat the problem on your own. Find a dentist who has received the post-graduate training required to properly diagnose and treat the habit.

This post is sponsored by Dr. Joseph Rota, a TMJ-trained dentist in Colorado Springs.