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Read this before reaching for a piece of gum

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Should you chew gum?

Many people chew gum several times a day. Some chew gum to mask bad breath. Others use gum to help them stay away from cigarettes. And then for others, it's just a habit. Before you reach for that next piece, read on to find out more about gum chewing.

Woman chewing gum

Is chewing gum bad for you?


Sweeteners

Chewing gum isn't the worst thing in the world. However, it can be bad for you if you chew the wrong gum. Some gum is loaded with sugar, which can cause tooth decay and cavities. Research has shown that if you chew gum containing sugar, it should be chewed for at least 15 minutes. The sugar is gone from the gum by this time and the saliva production can sufficiently rinse away the sugar residue.

Most dentists recommend chewing sugarless gum instead, however, some sugar-free chewing gum contains aspartame. This chemical is somewhat controversial. Long-term consumption of aspartame has been linked with birth defects, cancer, diabetes and some neurological disorders.

Look for chewing gum that is sweetened with Xylitol. It sounds like a chemical, but it's actually a natural sweetener that is found in corn cobs, birch trees and other botanicals. Some manufacturers use this sugar substitute in gum. Chewing sugarless gum that contains Xylitol not only stimulates saliva (reducing dry mouth and bad breath), but it also prevents oral bacteria producing acid.

Headaches

Gum could be causing your headache. Dr Ben Kim says, "You use eight different facial muscles to chew. Unnecessary chewing can create chronic tightness in two of these muscles, located close to your temples. This can put pressure on the nerves that supply this area of your head, which can lead to chronic, intermittent headaches."

Bloating and gas

For those suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other gastro-intestinal disorders, chewing gum can cause bloating and gas (due to the fact that you swallow excess air while chewing gum), which can cause discomfort to your already irritated intenstines.

Why people chew gum?

Diet

Many people who want to lose weight chew gum to reduce cravings and give their mouths something else to do. Instead of relying on gum, get active. Everyone should exercise 45 minutes each day and eat a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.

Smoking

Like dieters, smokers who are trying to quit oftentimes use gum to help relieve the oral fixation they normally get from cigarettes. Learn more about the challenges, strategies and benefits of quitting smoking and kick the habit.

Bad breath

The flavorings and other ingredients in chewing gum can help disguise bad breath. Chewing gum can also stimulate saliva, which can then wash away odor-causing bacteria, however, your bad breath may be caused by more than dry mouth or food particles. Be sure to brush your teeth at least two times a day and see your dentist twice a year. Read on to learn more about what could be causing your bad breath.

More about bad breath

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