Posted on 10/20/2019 by Clackamas Oral Surgery Office
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is a condition that occurs when temporomandibular joints located on either side of the head are misaligned due to degeneration of cartilage in the jaw or physical stress. Since these joints act as shock absorbers while doing normal tasks such as chewing, when they are out of order even the simplest of operations become painful.
TMJ affects more than 10 million Americans today. Since it often results in pain and discomfort while opening the jaw, it severely degrades the quality of life for many people. One of the biggest questions in this area is the role of chewing gum in everything.
Does It Cause TMJ?
Chewing gum is a common and effective way to relieve stress while freshening your breath and eliminating food particles that were stuck between teeth. Doctors have recommended chewing sugar-free gum moderately to stimulate saliva production, which keeps the plaque away. However, the biggest question usually is whether or not chewing gum does cause TMJ.
The good news is that it doesn't, but it has the ability to exacerbate it. This is usually because the areas responsible for chewing are already in bad condition. Therefore, the repetitive chewing causes further degradation of the joint causing the patient a lot more pain. To this end, we believe that once we diagnose you with TMJ, you should first seek help in eliminating the problem before you start chewing gum again.
How to Treat TMJ
There are a few ways to handle TMJ. We usually take the conservative approach when a patient is diagnosed with the disorder. That means non-surgical therapies such as muscle relaxers, a soft diet and rest. Jaw exercises are highly recommended to restore the normal function of the temporomandibular joints. People who tend to clench their teeth while sleeping can use a mouth guard so that the jaw relaxes during this time. Patients should also avoid hard or crunchy foods that place undue pressure on the temporomandibular joints.
While chewing gum is not a bad habit for a healthy mouth, doing so while you have TMJ is not such a bright idea. We recommend that you first treat the condition, and then start chewing slowly. Once the normal range of motion is restored, chewing gum will even be enjoyable! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to get in touch with us today!