The Rundown on Chewing Gum

By Dafne Villanueva – March 30, 2022

Chewing gum has long been a source of contention. Even though we frequently chew it, many people don’t actually know why gum is beneficial and its potential disadvantages. Some people are even stuck on the myths we hear about gum growing up, but how much do we actually know when we stick a piece in our mouth to freshen up? 

What is Chewing Gum? 

First, let’s pinpoint a definition of chewing gum. Chewing gum is an assortment of candy designed to be chewed but not swallowed. Its ingredients vary by manufacturer, but the foundational ingredients are gum, resin and preservatives. 

Oral Health Benefits 

Oral health doesn’t just include brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing; sometimes, it includes chewing gum. Chewing gum is good for one’s oral health because it can help combat bad breath, whiten teeth and even saliva flow. 

Unfortunately, many have experienced bad breath, whether it be from chronic dry mouths, oral problems or food such as onions, garlic or strong spices. Chewing gum, especially sugar-free gum, can help temporarily alleviate the odor in one’s mouth

While not all gums benefit from whitening teeth, several whitening chewing gums help whiten teeth after a particular meal or drink, such as curry or coffee, which easily stain. Not only do teeth-whitening gums prevent teeth stains, but they also strengthen those who have teeth or gum sensitivity. 

In addition to whitening teeth, gum can also help with saliva flow, especially for people who suffer from dry mouth. The constant movement of your jaw muscles against your salivary glands aids in producing saliva, which can provide relief to someone suffering from dry mouth and its symptoms of discomfort when eating, swallowing or even speaking.

Digestive Health Benefits 

Chewing gum is also beneficial to digestive health. For example, chewing gum with mint or intense peppermint-like flavors can help alleviate nausea, particularly for those who suffer from motion sickness.

Chewing gum can also help control your appetite and manage your dietary choices though it is not always an effective long-term solution. For instance, if someone has a piece of gum in their mouth, they are more likely to continue chewing it rather than throwing it away when offered something that would interfere with their taste buds. In addition, chewing gum can reduce appetite and prevent overeating by increasing satiety, tricking a person into thinking they are full when chewing gum. 

Woman blowing bubble with chewing gum.

Mental Health Benefits 

Chewing gum has surprising mental health benefits. It has been shown to aid in stress relief during daily activities. According to one study, people who chew gum for an extended period feel less stressed than those who do not chew gum. It has also been shown to improve mood and alleviate anxiety.

Disadvantages of Chewing Gum

While chewing gum has many benefits, some of the disadvantages come with the habit. Such as those with acid reflux — while gum may help with alleviating nausea, those who suffer from acid reflux should be aware of what kind of gum they chew, look into using sugar-free gum and avoid any mint flavor gum that might trigger acid reflux. 

It is also important to note that every chewing gum is different. Sugar-free gum is typically the better option. While sweet gum can be appealing and a go-to at times, chewing the sugary, sweet gum can heighten your sugar intake, ruin your dental gums and cause cavities. 

Myths Debunked

Chewing gum is the subject of numerous myths, many of which can be debunked. For example, while swallowing gum is not recommended, no one should rush to the doctor if they inadvertently consume it. Furthermore, swallowing gum is not harmful as long as it is passed through the body within 40 hours of consumption. However, if swallowed frequently, the gum may cause a blockage in the digestive tract, necessitating medical attention and the assistance of a doctor to clear out the blockage.

Another myth about gum is how it can help form a stronger and linear jawline. Unfortunately, chewing gum doesn’t have any impact on your jawline. If anything, chewing gum habitually and for the sole purpose of fixing one’s jawline can cause jaw clicking or jaw popping, which can cause problems later on and might require surgery in extreme circumstances. 

Though there are some disadvantages, chewing gum has many advantages, whether you chew it out of habit or need to freshen your breath before a date. It has left a small legacy by aiding oral, digestive and mental health. While it is essential to read the label of any chewing gum before putting it in your mouth, chewing gum has a plethora of benefits that outweigh the myths and drawbacks that sometimes surround gum.

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