The effects of chewing gum on your teeth
It’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t enjoy a refreshing piece of gum, but is chewing gum healthy? Does gum negatively affect the chewer? In some cases, the answer is yes.
Beware sugar and other sweeteners
First off, many brands of gum contain sugar, which—as we all know—is detrimental to teeth. If you’re chewing gum with sugar, it’s like you’re perpetually chomping down on a candy bar. Plaque bacteria in your mouth use the sugar found in gum to produce decay-causing acids. These acids erode enamel (the hard outside of your teeth) and pave the way for cavities. Because of this concern, many brands offer sugar-free gum, which use artificial sweeteners that aren’t detrimental to teeth.
Also, beware of some alternative sweeteners used in sugar-free gum. Aspartame is a common sweetener often found in chewing gum, but it has been linked to causing health problems including diabetes, cancer, emotional disorders and heart disease. Gums that use healthy additives like Xylitol and calcium lactate can actually improve dental health. Trident is renowned for containing these healthy additives.
Chewing gum and TMJ
Another negative side effect of chewing gum can occur in chewers with TMJ. TMJ refers to the disorder that affects the temporomandibular joints (the joint that connects the jaw to the skull). People who experience TMJ will notice clicking sounds when they eat or talk, which can be painful. Perhaps contrary to popular opinion, chewing gum does nothing to alleviate the pain caused by TMJ. In fact, when you eat, you rigorously tense your jaw muscles, and this constant strain can make pain worse.
Chewing gum has also been linked to headaches in children. In 2013, Tel Aviv University studied the effects discontinuing gum-use in teenagers who experienced frequent migraines and who also had a past history of chewing gum. Of the 30 who participated, 20 reported that they experienced fewer headaches. Researchers concluded that constant strain placed on the joints during chewing may have caused migraines in the subjects.
While chewing gum may not be the initial cause of TMJ (TMJ is often the result of an injury, grinding or clenching your teeth, or arthritis) the study indicated that gum while afflicted with TMJ can lead to further migraines.
Chewing gum is not inherently detrimental to your health—especially if you chew sugar-free gum in moderation, and if you do not suffer from TMJ. For those who need to chew, alternative healthy foods include celery, carrots, licorice root and apples.