Chewing gum is popular with almost everyone. Kids love juicy flavors and competing to blow the biggest bubble, while adults tend to chew for fresh breath or to bust stress. But is chewing gum bad for the health of your mouth? Let’s look at the pros and cons of this American pastime.
Why gum is great
- Choosing a mint gum with natural mint flavors will get you fresher breath in a flash.
- Chewing gum stimulates saliva, which is essential to neutralizing acids, rebuilding tooth enamel, washing away cavity-forming bacteria.
- Xylitol is a natural alternative to sugar found in many sugar-free gums that also helps fight cavities.
- Chewing gum can stave off unnecessary food cravings, helping you stick to that diet.
- Gum with nicotine has helped many a smoker kick the habit.
- Chewing gum helps lower stress and anxiety levels, helping you relax.
- It’s fun!
…And not so great
- When you choose sugary gum, your teeth and gums get covered in sugar—sugar that feeds the bacteria in your mouth, causing bad breath and cavities. Not to mention the adverse effects sugar has on your overall health.
- Chewing gum can overwork your jaw muscles, leading to spasms and pain, and can aggravate a jaw disorder called temporomandibular joint condition, or TMJ for short.
- For some people, chewing gum makes a clicking or popping sound in the jaw. While it’s rarely painful, it’s almost always annoying to the people around the chewer.
- Artificially-sweetened gum like those with aspartame can contribute to just as many health issues as the sugary kind—and many gums include these harmful ingredients.
The right kind of gum — the sugar-free Xylitol variety — can deliver all the benefits gum has to offer, although it won’t help with jaw issues. So “chews” wisely for the health of your body and smile.
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