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Updated on September 9, 2022

Is Chewing Gum Good or Bad For You?

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Is Chewing Gum Good or Bad?

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.

close up shot on a woman putting a chewing gum into her mouth

Do Dentists Recommend Gum?

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.”

Negative Effects of Chewing Gum

Chewing gum can have negative effects, including:

Headaches

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

Jaw Pain

Constant or excessive gum chewing can lead to temporomandibular disorder (TMD), a painful condition that affects the jaw and surrounding muscles.6

Tooth Decay

Chewing sugary gum can cause tooth decay and may eventually lead to tooth loss.7

Digestive Issues

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

Are Ingredients in Chewing Gum Safe?

Chewing gum usually contains these base ingredients:

  • Gum 
  • Fillers
  • Preservatives
  • Resin
  • Softeners
  • Flavoring
  • Sweeteners

Some chewing gum may contain ingredients that are considered harmful in large doses. For example:

  • Titanium dioxide — This common food additive is used as a filler to give some gum its smooth texture and white color. Older animal studies suggest that it can be linked to harmful effects. However, the effects on humans are still unknown.10
  • Aspartame This highly controversial ingredient has been linked to several health problems, including cancer. However, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than 100 studies support it is safe when used in a limited amount.11
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) This synthetic antioxidant is used as a preservative in many foods. Some animal research suggests it has links to cancer when consumed in high doses, but other studies found no such link.12 The FDA designates BHT as generally considered safe (GRAS) for human consumption.13

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. 

Is it Bad to Chew Gum Every Day?

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.

Benefits of Chewing Gum

There are many reported health benefits of chewing gum, including:

Weight loss

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

Protection against cavities

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

Reduces bad breath

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

Reduces stress

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

Boosts brain function

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

Which Gum Should You Choose?

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.

Summary

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.

21 Sources Cited
Last updated on September 9, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. American Cancer Society “Nicotine Replacement Therapy to Help You Quit Tobacco” www.cancer.org, 2 Aug. 2021
  2. Allen, Andrew P. et al. “Chewing Gum: Cognitive Performance, Mood, Well-Being, and Associated Physiology” Biomed Res Int., 17 May 2015
  3. Smith, Andrew “Effects of chewing gum on mood, learning, memory and performance of an intelligence test” Nutritional Neuroscience, 19 Jul. 2013
  4. Lippi, Giuseppe, et al. “Gum-Chewing and Headache: An Underestimated Trigger of Headache Pain in Migraineurs?” CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets, 2015
  5. Watemberg, Nathan, et al. “The Influence of Excessive Chewing Gum Use on Headache Frequency and Severity Among Adolescents” Pediatric Neurology, 4 Nov. 2013
  6. Tabrizi, Reza, et al. “Does Gum Chewing Increase the Prevalence of Temporomandibular Disorders in Individuals With Gum Chewing Habits?” The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, Sep. 2014
  7. World Health Organization “Sugars and dental caries” www.who.int, 9 Nov. 2017
  8. American College of Gastroenterology “Belching, Bloating, and Flatulence” www.gi.org, Jan. 2022
  9. Mayo Clinic “Swallowing gum: Is it harmful?” www.mayoclinic.org,  31 Dec. 2019
  10. Winkler, Hans Christian, et al. “Critical review of the safety assessment of titanium dioxide additives in food” Journal of Nanobiotechnology, 1 Jun. 2018
  11. United States Food and Drug Administration “Additional Information about High-Intensity Sweeteners Permitted for Use in Food in the United States” www.fda.gov, 8 Feb. 2018
  12. Vikis, Haris G. et al. “Neutrophils are required for 3-methylcholanthrene-initiated, butylated hydroxytoluene-promoted lung carcinogenesis” Molecular Carcinogenesis, Dec. 2012
  13. United States Food and Drug Administration “Food Additive Status List” www.fda.gov, 26 Aug. 2021
  14. Hetherington, Marion M. et al. “Effects of chewing gum on short-term appetite regulation in moderately restrained eaters” Appetite, Oct. 2011
  15. American Dental Association “Chewing Gum” www.ada.org,  (n.d.).
  16. Cocco, Fabio, et al. “The caries preventive effect of 1-year use of low-dose xylitol chewing gum. A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial in high-caries-risk adults” Clinical Oral Investigations, 16 Mar. 2017
  17. Takeuchi, Kenji, et al. “Effects of xylitol-containing chewing gum on the oral microbiota” Journal of Oral Science, 15 Nov. 2018
  18. Konno, Michiyo, et al. “Relationships Between Gum-Chewing and Stress” Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 2016
  19. Smith, Andrew “Effects of chewing gum on cognitive function, mood and physiology in stressed and non-stressed volunteers” Nutritional Neuroscience, 19 Jul. 2013
  20. American Dental Association “Chewing Gum to Prevent Cavities” www.mouthhealthy.org, (n.d.).
  21. Mayo Clinic “Nutrition and healthy eating” www.mayoclinic.org, 8 Oct. 2020
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