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Study: Chewing Gum Eases Stress, Harms Jaw

Chewing gum is a great way to relieve stress, especially for former smokers and people dieting, but may end up making the jaws of chewers feel tired and sore, according to new research.

Chewing the gum releases pent-up energy. But chew it too vigorously or too often and you could end up with jaw problems, according to oral surgeons at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Dr. Douglas Sinn, a UT Southwestern oral surgeon, said constant gum chewing can tire jaws, and lead to muscle fatigue, muscle spasms and pain. It may even lead to a syndrome called TMJ that causes pain in the head or neck and may make it difficult to open and close the jaw properly, according to a statement from Sinn.

Ironically, the more stress you're under when you chew gum, the more stress you may be putting on your jaws, according to the research.

When you're stressed, you're likely to chew harder and more vigorously, which leaves your jaw even more tired and stressed, said Sinn.

Sinn added that instead of relying on chewing gum, individuals should look for additional ways to relieve stress, such as exercise, squeezing a stress ball, meditation or other relaxation techniques.