Is chewing gum bad?

Categories: General Dentistry

Young man at homeChewing gum can help to freshen breath, and it can even help to relieve some boredom and stress. However, if you chew gum constantly, you may be wondering if this is a harmless habit or if it may be causing damage to your teeth and your health. Here are the good points and bad points about chewing gum! 

The good points

Chewing gum may actually be good for your mental state. Studies have shown that chewing gum can help improve memory and alertness and can reduce stress. Many people use gum when they are trying to lose weight, because they feel gum reduces feelings of hunger. And, many people use gum to help them stop smoking. You will also be happy to learn that chewing gum does not, in fact, take 7 years to digest in your stomach – it is actually digested and out of the system within a few days. 

As far as oral health, chewing sugarless gum can help to increase saliva in the mouth, which can help to wash bacteria and debris off of the teeth. Gum that contains xylitol can help to prevent tooth decay and bad breath. 

The bad points

Some research has shown that there is a link between constant gum chewing and headaches in people who are prone to tension headaches and migraines. And, from the dental health perspective, there are also reasons not to chew gum. For one thing, if you chew gum with sugar in it, that means you are coating your teeth with sugar with every chew. 

Chewing gum can also cause problems with the jaw muscles, such as TMJ. Millions of people suffer with TMJ, a disorder of the jaw that can cause headaches, earaches, and jaw pain. Constantly chewing gum can lead to the development of TMJ, but more often it just makes a jaw problem you already have worse, by overworking the jaw muscles and painfully tightening facial and neck muscles. 

Chewing gum may be a hard habit to break, but if you are showing signs of TMJ, it is a good idea to try. Call Pacific Northwest Smiles today at 425-357-6400 for help with TMJ pain.