Is Chewing Gum Bad For You? The Benefits and Side Effects of Chewing Gum


Wed, May 22

Why do you chew gum? Is it a nervous habit, or because you enjoy the taste? So many people, young and old, chew gum chronically for different reasons.

It could be an impulse buy because you've never heard of Sour Patch Gum and you must try everything sour. It could be because you’re on a date and you just ate six Olive Garden breadsticks and garlic isn't the best scent? Much like if you were taking a new medication and you’d want to know the side effects, it's important to know what gum can do for you and how it can negatively affect you. Here you will learn all you need to know about the benefits and side effects of chewing gum.

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How to Avoid Jaw Issues

How do you chew? Well, you use your jaw, which is a crucial part of your everyday interactions. So you have to keep it in good shape.

If you fall victim to chewing gum every day, this may lead to crippling jaw pain which can lead to headaches and even TMJ disorder. TMJ is essentially a jaw disorder that is best described as painful clicking when opening your mouth, talking, and chewing. This can provide serious discomfort long term and short term; so be careful about how often you chew gum. You can easily avoid this pain by simply chewing for shorter periods. Dentists prefer that you chew gum for 15 minutes at a time, or you can always opt for breath mints instead.

How Does Chewing Gum Affect Your Teeth?

Are your teeth important to you? What's cheaper, fixing a cavity you got from chewing sugary gum or just buying sugar-free gum? If you chew sugary gum or food with corn syrup, this can cause cavities and tooth decay to form and for you to develop an imbalanced oral microbiome.

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On a more positive note, gum, specifically sugar-free gum, can have some significant health benefits. An example of this is that chewing gum increases saliva in your mouth. The more you chew, the more saliva your mouth creates, which is good for your dental health.

Saliva helps get rid of food particles in between your teeth, which can help prevent cavities. The increase in saliva also helps mask bad breath or unpleasant oral smells like garlic. Sugar-free gum also protects your teeth because it scrapes away lingering plaque which overall strengthens your teeth from falling victim to cavities.

Gastrointestinal Issues and Benefits

More often than not, gum chewing can contribute to gastrointestinal problems. Chewing gum causes you to swallow air pockets, which could cause symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Similarly, if you chew sugar-free gum, the sugar alternatives they use for sweetness can increase the risk and discomfort associated with these digestive issues.

It is smart to look at the ingredients listed, to identify what artificial sweeteners are present. Too many artificial sweeteners can mess up your stomach, from diarrhea to long-term effects. For example, heart disease, higher risk of stroke, or even death. It is always important to know what you are putting in your mouth because you never know what the consequences can be. I can personally attest to this section, I used to chew gum all of the time and didn't think too much of it until I started getting very painful stomach cramps that wouldn't go away. These cramps are no joke-they are painful! They sort of feel like an animal is ripping at your insides. I do not want the same experience I had to happen to you so I hope you remember to chew in moderation!

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When looking at gastrointestinal benefits, it is proven that chewing gum can settle your stomach, especially if ginger and mint are present. Both of these are used in teas that are known to settle your stomach like ginger or mint teas. The gum acts the same way the tea does; it settles your stomach and adds a calm over the storm of your stomach.

Chewing gum might help you maintain or curb your hunger. Some chronic gum chewers have stated that chewing gum before eating can repress their hunger so they only eat what their stomach needs. Oftentimes, if you are starving, you will overeat, so chewing gum beforehand can help prevent that.

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Tips to Maximize the Benefits of Chewing Gum

  • Stick to sugar-free gum. Sticking to a sugar-free option will enable you to get all the dental benefits that come with chewing gum. Continually, sugar-free gum will strengthen your enamel because of the access saliva accumulates when chewing gum.
  • Don't chew your gum for more than 15 minutes at a time. Limiting the amount of time chewing gum can preserve your jaw. Chewing gum or even eating for long periods takes a toll on your jaw; sometimes you might not even be able to open your mouth fully. (That's happened to me quite a few times.)
  • Chew gum after you eat a meal. Since your teeth are more susceptible to acid attacks after you eat, it's smart to chew gum because that will help remove toxic minerals and maintain your overall tooth health. Additionally, it will remove any smells of eating food left.
  • Try not to chew gum every day, maybe opt for breath mints instead. Chewing gum daily, for long periods, can easily wreak havoc on your jaw. Continual chewing can cause your jaw to misalign itself, so try to make it a once-in-a-while thing.
  • Remember, always check the nutrition label. Make sure there aren’t too many chemicals or sugar alternatives present. It can be as catastrophic to you as sugar gum; so be sure to check!

Precious Simpson
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Writer since May, 2024 · 19 published articles

Precious is a high school sophomore in New England who likes to read and write in her spare time. She also enjoys baking cupcakes. Precious also enjoys being creative with crafts and photography. She enjoys watching the Gilmore Girls and The Summer I Turned Pretty. She is a writer for her school newspaper and she works for her school yearbook club as well.