Health Effects of Chewing Gum

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Health Effects of Chewing Gum
Chewing gum can have beneficial and adverse health effects. (Tabletten 1 image by Tino Hemmann from

Chewing gum has been a human habit since prehistoric times, and the production and sale of chewing gum today is big business that shows no signs of slowing down. People who chew gum regularly may want to know its good and bad effects, which depend on the ingredients used in a product and even the context in which the gum is chewed.

Sugar-Free Gum Reduces Tooth Decay

The American Dental Association (ADA) has given its seal of approval to several brands of sugar-free chewing gums, stating that chewing these products can reduce tooth decay. Chewing gum after eating increases saliva production in the mouth, which helps dilute and carry away some of the acids created by bacteria on tooth surfaces that act on food. The ADA does not give its seal to any non-sugar-free chewing gums. It must be noted, however, that some of the gums on the list are manufactured by the William Wrigley, Jr., Company, which also financially supports some ADA programs.

Chewing Gum Can Suppress the Appetite

In a 2006 study, researchers at the Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Liverpool concluded that chewing gum can help people avoid between-meal snacks by reducing cravings. The study revealed that appetite for sweet snacks decreased among those participating in the study. No appetite decrease was reported for salty snack cravings, however.

Sugar-Free Gum May Alleviate Acid Reflux

A study performed by the GKT Dental Institute of London involved patients with acid reflux. Since regurgitated stomach acid can erode teeth and damage the oesophagus, it sought a way to reduce the acid entering the oesophagus. The study concluded that chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal can reduce the amount of acid entering the oesophagus from the stomach.

Sugar in Gum Has Adverse Effects

Sugar contributes to tooth decay. In addition, it is common knowledge that excessive amounts of refined sugar in the diet contribute to many other maladies as well, including obesity and diabetes.

Swallowing Gum Is Bad for Children

In addition, researchers at Gastroenterology and Nutrition in Orlando, Florida, found that ingesting gum can be a bad thing. Their study described three medical cases of children who suffered constipation, diarrhoea or esophageal obstruction after swallowing chewing gum.

Sorbitol Can Cause Digestive Problems

Often, it is not chewing gum in general that causes a problem but a specific ingredient. The "British Medical Journal" described two patients who were admitted to the hospital with severe weight loss, chronic diarrhoea and other intestinal problems. Both were in the habit of constantly chewing gum containing sorbitol, an artificial sweetener. Once the gum with sorbitol was eliminated, their health improved.

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