Pop goes the gum. A habit that can drive some of us nuts. Many find it irritating. But what’s even worse is what the chewer may be doing to their health. Unbeknownst to those who love chewing gum, the habit could be doing a lot of harm to their health and wellbeing.
A lot people like to chew gum. Enough to make gum manufacturing a major industry around the world. Among reasons offered for chewing gum include freshening breath, stimulating saliva production, and, of course, flavor. For many gum chewers, however, the appeal goes beyond flavor as they continue to chew long after the taste has gone.
Swallowing gum has been said to be harmful. Some say it cannot be digested at stays in your digestive tract for many years. While this is just a myth, gum chewing can be harmful to your health in a number of other ways.
Chewing Gum Side Effects and Disadvantages
1. Promotes Tooth Decay
This includes chewing “healthy” sugar-free gum. These are often flavored with artificial sugar substitutes such as aspartame and acesulfame potassium that have been linked to heart disease, diabetes and other harmful effects. Not only that but, these sugar substitutes can cause tooth damage too. Chewing sugar-flavored gum, needless to say, can be bad for your oral health.
2. May Increase Junk Food Cravings
Chewing gum is sometimes recommended as a way to fight hunger and eat less, thus possibly reducing junk food cravings. However, according to a study from the University at Buffalo, chewing gum before each meal decreased meal frequency but increased food volume. Chewing mint gum before eating decreased the likelihood of reaching for healthy food such as fruit, while craving for junk food remained undiminished.
3. Can Trigger Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
Chewing on one side of your mouth than the other can cause jaw muscle imbalance and even TMJ, a chronic painful joint condition. Studies show that habitual gum chewing may cause continuous stress on your jaws, which can contribute to the condition.
4. Stomach Problems
Chewing gum results in more air being swallowed which can lead to gassiness. Also, some sugar-free gums are sweetened with artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol and xylitol which may cause diarrhea.
5. Release Mercury From Tooth Fillings
Studies have shown that chewing gum may increase the rate of mercury vapor from amalgam dental fillings, leading to “considerable” excessive increase in mercury level. This could expose your body to the known neurotoxin.