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Chewing gum is a popular way to reduce boredom or freshen your breath. It can also be used as a behavioral replacement for smoking or binge eating or to deliver nicotine more safely.1
The health benefits of chewing gum are debatable. However, chewing gum can help relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and aid in weight loss.2 It also can help improve memory recall and concentration skills because it stimulates the senses and brain with small bursts of energy.3
There are some disadvantages to chewing gum. Chewing too much can lead to tooth decay because of the sugar content in most chewing gum. Although sugar-free gums exist, they can cause an upset stomach.
One common misconception is that dentists don't recommend chewing gum because they think it will cause cavities or weaken teeth. Most dentists recommend chewing sugar-free gum after meals to help prevent tooth decay.
“Sugar-free gums have some benefits, such as reducing plaque pH response and helping in remineralization, ultimately preventing cavities. Chewing sugar-free gum can also stimulate saliva production, especially in patients with dry mouth due to medication use and/or conditions such as Sjogren's syndrome.”NewMouth’s resident dentist, Dr. Khushbu Aggarwal
Most dentists recommend avoiding sugary gum, which can cause cavities. They also recommend using chewing gum in moderation.
Dr. Aggarwal also warns that “chewing gum, even sugar-free gum, is not recommended for patients who have problems with their TMJ, as this can exacerbate symptoms.”
Chewing gum can have negative effects, including:
Some research suggests excessive chewing can lead to flare-ups in people who already experience migraines.4 There is also evidence that excessive gum chewing can lead to chronic headaches in adolescents.5
Constant or excessive gum chewing can lead to temporomandibular disorder (TMD), a painful condition that affects the jaw and surrounding muscles.6
Chewing sugary gum can cause tooth decay and may eventually lead to tooth loss.7
Chewing gum can also affect the digestive system. Sugar-free gum may contain ingredients that can cause flatulence.8 Gum can also lead to constipation if swallowed, which can cause abdominal pain and discomfort.9
Chewing gum usually contains these base ingredients:
Some chewing gum may contain ingredients that are considered harmful in large doses. For example:
If you’re unsure which chewing gum to purchase, look for one that carries the American Dental Association (ADA) seal for optimal safety. All products must meet the ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness to earn this seal.
The answer to this question depends. Some people believe daily gum chewing could lead to cavities, tooth decay, and even jaw pain. Others believe it could be beneficial to overall health.
As with everything, moderation is key.
Chewing gum becomes problematic if it’s used to replace basic oral hygiene routines, like brushing and flossing.
There are many reported health benefits of chewing gum, including:
Chewing gum is a low-calorie option for people trying to lose weight. It may make people feel like they’re still getting a treat without breaking their diet.
Some research suggests that people who chew gum may reach for fewer snacks, which could contribute to weight loss.14
Some clinical trials have found a link between a lower incidence of cavities and chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals.15
Using sugar-free chewing gums to prevent tooth decay is supported by other research, which suggests it can be used in conjunction with a healthy oral hygiene routine.16
Xylitol, a type of natural sugar alcohol, is often used as a sweetener in sugar-free chewing gum. Studies show that gums with xylitol are more effective at preventing bad breath and tooth decay than other types of sugar-free gum.17
One study suggested that chewing gum may reduce stress-related responses.18 Another study demonstrated stress reduction in people who chewed gum, as opposed to those who did not.19
Chewing gum may improve brain function, alertness, and memory. One study found that chewing gum during the workday was associated with higher productivity and fewer cognitive problems.2
There are many different types of chewing gum to choose from. Most dental professionals recommend avoiding sugar options. Too much sugar can damage the teeth and cause other health issues such as diabetes.
When choosing gum, look for sugar-free options labeled with the ADA seal. This seal ensures the product meets ADA safety and effectiveness criteria.20
Artificial sweeteners, which many gums contain, are controversial in nutrition.21 Some are good, while others may harm the body if consumed in large quantities. Consult a dentist before consuming any artificial sweetener, especially if you have preexisting health conditions or are pregnant.
There are many benefits of chewing gum. Most negative side effects are connected to excessive chewing or chewing sugary gum.
Some people may be intolerant to certain ingredients in chewing gum and, therefore, should avoid it. However, the benefits of chewing gum between meals can far outweigh the negatives for most people.
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