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The Hidden Dangers of Chewing Gum

Join us in this informative article to discover all the concerns you should be aware of chewing a lot of gum and it's effects

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  • 6 min read

Chewing gum is a ubiquitous habit enjoyed by many around the world, often seen as a quick fix for freshening breath or even a stress reliever. However, despite its popularity, chewing gum carries several health risks that are often overlooked. From dental issues to digestive problems, the impact of this seemingly harmless habit can be significant.


The habitual chewing of gum is perceived as a benign practice, yet it introduces a variety of potential health problems. These include not only direct oral health issues but also less obvious concerns such as the ingestion of unhealthy additives and the exacerbation of pre-existing conditions like irritable bowel syndrome due to sweeteners like sorbitol.

The social perception of gum as a simple, effective solution for oral freshness masks the complex array of consequences that frequent gum chewing can engender. Over time, this habit can alter jaw alignment and muscle function, inadvertently leading to chronic discomfort and even disorders that might require medical or dental intervention. Moreover, the normalization of gum chewing does little to encourage the pursuit of more comprehensive and effective oral hygiene practices.


Dental Health Concerns about Chewing a lot of Gum


Chewing gum, especially varieties containing sugar, can be detrimental to dental health. Sugar in gum acts as a food source for bacteria in the mouth, leading to the production of acids that cause tooth decay and cavities. Even sugar-free gums aren’t free from dental risks; they often contain acidic flavorings and preservatives that can wear down tooth enamel, leading to dental erosion.

Additionally, the constant chewing motion can promote excessive wear and tear on the dental surfaces and supporting structures, potentially leading to increased sensitivity and the need for dental treatments. It’s important to consider these risks when regularly consuming any type of chewing gum, as the cumulative effects can contribute significantly to oral health issues over time.


Jaw Health and TMJ Disorders


Frequent gum chewing can strain the muscles in the jaw and face, potentially leading to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. This condition causes pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles controlling jaw movement, leading to chronic facial pain, headaches, and even difficulty chewing.

Prolonged stress on these structures can make the symptoms more severe and enduring, with some individuals experiencing ringing in the ears (tinnitus) or even locked jaw, where the jaw temporarily cannot open or close completely. The repetitive motion can alter the alignment of the teeth and jaw over time, necessitating more intensive treatments like orthodontics or surgery to correct severe cases.


Reducing gum chewing can alleviate these symptoms, but for those already suffering, consulting with healthcare professionals for targeted treatments is crucial. Early intervention can prevent further complications, ensuring long-term jaw and dental health. This proactive approach allows for customized solutions that address both symptoms and root causes effectively.

Digestive Issues

Gum chewing can also impact your digestive system. For instance, sugar alcohols like sorbitol, commonly used as sweeteners in sugar-free gums, can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea if consumed in excess. Moreover, the act of chewing gum promotes air swallowing, which can lead to abdominal pain and bloating.


Beyond these issues, excessive gum chewing can alter digestion by increasing the amount of air entering the gastrointestinal tract, which might not only cause discomfort but also lead to more serious digestive disorders over time. This habit can also interfere with the normal acidity in the stomach.

Chewing stimulates saliva production, which can be beneficial before a meal. However, without actual food to digest, this can result in an overproduction of stomach acid, leading to heartburn or acid reflux. Furthermore, individuals with certain types of dental work, such as mercury amalgam fillings, may inadvertently increase their exposure to mercury vapor through constant gum chewing, adding another layer of potential health concerns related to digestion and overall systemic exposure.

Toxic Ingredients and Chemicals

Many gums contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, which have been linked to a host of health issues. Aspartame, for example, breaks down into substances that can be harmful to the body, potentially causing a range of effects from headaches to more severe health concerns like brain tumors. Additionally, the act of chewing can release these chemicals more directly into the bloodstream through the mouth’s mucous membranes.

Sucralose, another common sweetener, has been scrutinized for potentially altering glucose and insulin levels and negatively affecting gut bacteria. Studies have shown that these artificial sweeteners can disrupt the body’s natural ability to regulate calorie intake, which might confuse the brain’s reward mechanisms, leading to increased food cravings and potential weight gain.

Furthermore, continuous exposure to these chemicals from habitual gum chewing might exacerbate these effects, suggesting a need for consumers to be cautious about their gum choices, especially in terms of frequency and duration of use. Thus, it is essential for individuals to consider not only the type but also the amount of gum they consume daily, as minimizing exposure could help mitigate potential health risks.

Psychological and Behavioral Effects of Chewing Gum

While some studies suggest that chewing gum can help with concentration and stress relief, these benefits are not universally accepted and the evidence remains mixed. Furthermore, chewing gum can mask, rather than address, issues like hunger or stress, potentially leading to disordered eating behaviors or insufficient addressing of stressors.

The Cleveland Clinic points out that while chewing gum is sometimes used as a coping mechanism for stress, the effectiveness is largely anecdotal, and reliance on gum might divert attention from more effective stress-management techniques. Psychology Today adds that while gum may provide a temporary boost in alertness or mood, it should not be seen as a substitute for genuine mental health care or nutritional needs.

Overuse might even contribute to a cycle of dependency where the underlying issues of stress and nutrition are not properly addressed, leading instead to a superficial and temporary relief. This can mask more significant health conditions that require professional intervention, potentially delaying necessary treatment.


While chewing gum might seem like a harmless habit, its potential negative effects on oral health, jaw health, digestive systems, and even overall well-being are considerable. If you’re an avid gum chewer, it may be worth considering these factors and discussing them with a healthcare professional to mitigate any risks or exploring healthier alternatives for oral hygiene and stress relief. Moderation, as with many things, is key to avoiding the downsides of this common habit.

Furthermore, understanding the ingredients in your preferred brand of gum can inform you about potential allergens or irritants that could exacerbate underlying health issues. This awareness can lead to more informed choices, like opting for gums without artificial sweeteners or preservatives, which are often linked to health complaints. Engaging in conversations about healthier lifestyle choices, including the reduction of gum chewing, could significantly improve your quality of life and prevent long-term health complications.