Claire Embleton ,mother-of-four who chewed sugar-free gum for up to seven hours a day is now facing a major operation to fix her worn-out jaw.
She said chewing gum habit wrecked the joints at the side of her mouth leaving her unable to open her mouth more than 1cm.
The 38-year-old could now be left with scars after the operation which will see a surgeon cut into the side of her face to replace the joints for metal plates.
The IT manager said: ‘When doctors told me chewing gum had overworked my jaw and worn out the joints, I was shocked.
‘I had always believed chewing gum was healthy. I chewed it after eating and drinking and ensured I only ever had sugar-free brands.
‘I never imagined what I thought was a harmless and healthy habit could be so damaging.’
Mrs Embleton, who is married to Daniel, 40, had chewed gum for around five years before two years ago she occasionally experienced a clicking feeling in her jaw joints when she ate two years ago.
She said: ‘I always chewed sugar-free gum after meals and drinks. Looking back it wasn’t an addiction but I suppose it had become a habit because when I add up time, I was chewing for five hours a day in the week and at weekends it could be as much as seven hours.
‘But there was no warning on the packets that gum should only be used for a certain amount of time.
‘And I while sometimes I got a clicky sensation in my jaw when I chewed I didn’t worry as it wasn’t painful.’
But a year ago when, as she chewed her favourite brand of gum, her mouth suddenly locked shut.
She said: ‘The day my jaw froze was a frightening experience. One minute I was laughing and chatting normally – the next, without any warning, my jaw was suddenly locked in an almost shut position.
‘It was incredibly painful and meant I couldn’t eat or talk properly.’
Since then she has been unable to open her mouth fully.