Chewing gum, good or bad?

Chewing gum, good or bad?

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

There is some debate as to whether chewing gum is good for you, so what are the reported benefits of chewing gum and does this outweigh the disadvantages?  Here’s some information you can chew on…

A Sticky History

While some gums are loaded with sugar and others may be recommended by dentists, all chewing gum is comprised of similar ingredients that include gum base – the rubbery substance usually made up of resin, wax and elastomers; softeners such as glycerin that give gum its flexibility and keeps it moist; as well as flavorings, colors and natural and/or artificial sweeteners. It is important to chew gum that has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of endorsement, which guarantees there is no plaque-causing sugar but, rather, sweeteners such as aspartame, xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol, which don’t cause cavities.

Chewing gum may help prevent tooth decay.

Studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for around 20 minutes after meals can help prevent tooth decay. That’s because the physical act of chewing increases the production of saliva needed to neutralize acids and rinse away food debris from around the teeth and gums. Chewing gum can also help prevent bad breath and cavities by reducing the bacteria in your mouth. Some gums may even supply minerals to the teeth, further reducing decay-causing bacteria.

Chewing gum could be used to help you lose weight

Although chewing gum alone will not guarantee weight loss, there is evidence to suggest that it can help control cravings and reduce your appetite. People who chew sugarless gum after a meal feel fuller for longer; pleasantly flavored gum can also help curb cravings for treats and be used as a substitute for snacking.

Chewing gum can help reduce stress and boost memory

Researchers have found that chewing gum while completing different tasks can improve certain cognitive functions, including alertness, memory, decision-making and comprehension by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Gum may also relieve help stress and anxiety by helping to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol.

On the other hand….

Gum can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea

Most chewing gums contain artificial sweeteners that are difficult for the stomach to absorb and can cause bloating and abdominal pain. There is evidence that artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol and mannitol, have been responsible for causing diarrhea in otherwise healthy people.

Chewing gum can cause jaw problems

For some, chewing gum can excessively aggravate the joints and cartilage around the jaw and can even contribute to temporomandibular disorder (TMD), a condition that affects the movement of the jaw and can cause headaches and pain around your jaw, as well as clicking and popping noises when you move your jaw.

Chewing mint-flavored gum can reduce the intake of healthy foods 

Such as fruit and vegetables because the flavor of the gum gives certain foods a bitter, unappetizing flavor; this means you may pass on the healthy foods and opt for something else less healthy.

Your Dentist in Eugene

While beneficial, chewing gum is not a substitute for brushing and flossing and can never replace regular visits to the dentist. If you live in Eugene, Dr. Ari Binder and his team at 360 Dental Group provide world-class dental services with a personal touch. Whether you are seeking a family dentist or are considering more advanced procedures like implants or restorative dentistry, call us today at (541) 689-1645 or request an appointment online. The friendly staff at 360 Dental looks forward to serving you.