Is Chewing Gum Good Or Bad For Teeth?

Excerpt: Chewing gum surprisingly has been around for millennia...
Table of Contents

Summary

As long as you stay away from sugar-sweetened gum, and stick to xylitol-sweetened gum you will most likely not be impacted by the gum. However, everyone is affected differently, so you should always listen to what your body is telling you, and follow your dentist’s or doctor’s advice.

Chewing gum surprisingly has been around for millennia. Original chewing gums were made from tree sap, like from a spruce tree. More modern gums however, are typically made from synthetic rubbers.

What Is Chewing Gum Made From?

Gum has some common components, regardless of the brand:

 

  • Gum – The main ingredient that is used as a base, it gives it a rubbery, chewy quality.
  • Resin – Is used to strengthen the gum.
  • Fillers – Calcium carbonate and talc are often used for texture.
  • Preservatives – Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is often used to extend the shelf life.
  • Softeners – Paraffin wax and vegetable oils are used to prevent hardening, and also helps lock in moisture.
  • Sweeteners – Different types of sugar and no-sugar sweeteners are used to enhance the flavor.
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Gum manufacturers tend to keep their specific blend of ingredients secret so you won’t know the exact combination of ingredients, and therefore they can’t be replicated. You can also buy a wide arrangement of specialty gums, organic gums, and more.

How Safe Is Chewing gum?

Chewing gum brands must follow FDA guidelines, so they are considered safe for their intended purpose, which is meant to be chewed and spit out, not digested. However, since everyone is different, your experience may vary depending on allergies, etc. Chewing gum is generally considered a safe past-time though.

What About The Ingredients?

Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

BHT is a well-known and commonly used preservative that keeps food from going rancid. The FDA recommends a daily intake of less than 0.11 mg per pound of body weight (0.25 mg per KG). One study showed that adults on average appeared to consume 0.21 – 31.3 mg per kg of body weight.

Aspartame

Some believe that this is a controversial sweetener, they claim it is linked to a range of conditions including, headaches, obesity, and cancer. However, the FDA’s position on this substance is that consuming small amounts should not cause you any issues.

Summary

Chewing gum is largely considered safe to use regularly without concern. However, some ingredients may be controversial and you can choose to use another gum without those products.

Chewing Gum Reduces Stress And boosts Memory

There have been some studies that have been done to prove a link between chewing gum and decreases in depression, anxiety, and stress, you can read about this study here. If you know that you grind your teeth (bruxism) in times of stress, it may be wise to bring some gum, as the gum will give you something to focus on, and can reduce the impact between your teeth.
 
The effects of gum on memory have been studied, but more research needs to be done as scientists aren’t fully aware of why chewing gum would be beneficial to memory. The current theory is that chewing gum may increase blood flow to the brain. These benefits also decrease when you stop chewing gum as these two studies show here (study 1study 2).

Chewing Gum May Help Weight Loss

Chewing gum can distract you if you’re feeling hungry, and it can either have low or 0 calories, depending on the type of gum you buy. However, if you do not want to become addicted to chewing gum or be fixated on it, you should remember to only use it as a potential tool to help you when you absolutely need it.
 
Studies have shown that chewing gum can reduce your appetite, which may prevent you from buying, or ordering more food than you otherwise would have without the gum. Instead of relying on gum, you may want to consider eating foods that are lower in calories and are more filling.

Chewing Gum Can Fight Decay And Protect Teeth

Chewing sugar-free gum that has been sweetened with xylitol has been shown to actually fight cavities. This is partly due to the fact that chewing increases saliva production and xylitol is known to prevent the growth of “bad” bacteria in the mouth by as much as 75%.

Not to mention, the main reason people chew gum is to freshen their breath, so if you do suffer from bad breath (halitosis), it can be very beneficial for you.

Summary

Chewing gum can come with benefits to your health, although in most cases these benefits are fairly minor and should not be relied upon.

Chewing Gum Complications

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

If you constantly chew gum, you may be putting yourself at risk for TMD which is a serious jaw issue that can cause pain when you chew food. This is a rare outcome of chewing gum, but studies have proven a link between excessive chewing and TMD.

Sugar-Sweetened Gum Can Be Bad For You

If you regularly chew gum that has been sweetened by sugar, it can cause dental and health issues. It can also come with hidden calories, it may only be 5-10 calories per piece, but depending on how many pieces you chew, it could add up over time.  

Chewing Gum Can Cause Headaches

Studies have shown that chewing gum may be a trigger for headaches for some people. This can lead to a migraine or tension-type headache. More studies will have to be done to prove this, but if you are prone to migraines, you may want to limit the amount of gum you chew to see if it helps.

Frequently Asked Questions

Probably not, unless you’re overdoing, or have specific complications with one of the ingredients you most-likely won’t notice it.

You shouldn’t, gum can easily get stuck in your braces, and you may your braces while trying to clean them.

Stay away from sugar-sweetened gum, as the sugar will negatively impact your teeth an health. The most benefit comes from xylitol-sweetened gum as that promotes healthy teeth.

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