Chewing gum can not only bathe your teeth and gums in sugar but also lead to jaw and tooth aches. Sugarless gum often contains either aspartame or sorbitol, the first being potentially toxic and increasing your hunger, and the second becoming a dangerous laxative in large doses. In order to avoid these effects, it is best to stay away from gum altogether.
However, there are other ways to get the benefits of chewing gum, whether you are seeking fresher breath, increased saliva, a sweet or minty flavour, or just looking for something to chew.
Chewing on a stick of liquorice root is a natural, healthy alternative to chewing gum. According to HerbsAreSpecial.com, a website based on Isabell Shipard's books "How Can I Use Herbs in My Daily Life?", it has been used since ancient times in China, Europe, Africa, India and the Mediterranean region to calm and rejuvenate, to aid digestion and sooth a sore throat. Liquorice twigs were even chewed until bristly and then used as toothbrushes before toothbrushes existed. Naturally sweet, but containing no sugar, liquorice root might be just the chewing gum replacement you need.
Parsley is a common herb you can find in the grocery store or grow at home. Parsley is known for freshening the breath. Chewing parsley is a great way to get some greens in your diet as well. If you chew gum to ensure that you don't get bad breath, a few springs of parsley may be the way to go.
Fennel seeds, too, cure bad breath. This is due its strong aroma, which can mask the smell of previously consumed foods, but also to its essential oil's antibacterial properties, as proved in "Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activities of Essential Oil and Extracts of Fennel," an article appearing in the April 14, 2009 edition of the "Flavor and Fragrance Journal" and reported at http://www3.interscience.wiley.com. Fennel seeds are also highly portable--carried in a little tin in your pocket, they can be as readily available as a stick of gum.
Pistachios are a good alternative to chewing gum for those with an oral fixation. They are protein-packed but you won't eat too many of them because it requires some work to remove them from their shells. If you remove their shells with your teeth, you'll find them quite a satisfying gum replacement.
Tea Tree Toothpicks
Many people who don't want the adverse effects of gum turn to holding a tee tree toothpick between their teeth. Refreshingly minty and also saliva-producing--but without the ill effects of sugar or heavily chewing--tea tree toothpicks are a popular after-meal gum alternative. Regular toothpicks also work, though they don't have any flavour.