You probably know by now that chewing gum is bad for your teeth, but did you realize there are plenty of other reasons not to chew gum? It doesn’t just endanger your teeth – it’s an unhealthy habit that can cause health problems all over your body. We’ve listed just a few reasons not to chew gum and the nasty side effects if you do below:
Excessive chewing can cause extra wear and tear on the joints surrounding the mouth, which can create problems and exacerbate existing health issues, such as TMD. TMD is the dysfunction of TMJ. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) involves the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the skull. Any disfunction of the joint can lead to pain, difficulty chewing, and clicking and/or locking of the joint. TMD is easily treatable, but if you’ve had it in the past, you’re probably susceptible to recurrences, and regularly chewing gum can make it more likely that you’ll relapse.
A long-term gum habit can also cause damage to the cartilage around the jaw, which acts as a shock absorber. Once damaged, the cartilage may never heal properly and can cause pain, discomfort, and difficulty chewing for the rest of your life.
In addition to jaw problems, excessive chewing can also cause tension in two facial muscles located near the temples. When that tension is allowed to build up, it can lead to chronic headaches.
Chewing without swallowing can upset your digestion in a few different ways. First, the constant chewing causes your mouth to continuously produce saliva, which tells your stomach that food is on the way, and when the anticipated food doesn’t arrive, it can wreak havoc on your digestion and your metabolism, and actually make it more difficult to lose weight.
The absence of the expected food can also create “air pockets” in your stomach, which can cause your stomach to feel upset and make it harder to digest any real food that you do consume. The artificial sweeteners in sugar-free gum can also cause indigestion, depending on the chemical and your individual reaction to it.
The low-sugar craze may have done more harm than good in some instances. While sugar is certainly bad for our health and should only be enjoyed in very small quantities, the move to the other extreme has resulted in artificial sweeteners flooding the market, and those aren’t any better than cane sugar. They’ve been linked to cancer and have also shown to upset our body’s gut biome – destroying the beneficial bacteria that we need, leaving room for harmful bacteria to take over. This can cause both short-term and long-term issues with digestion, especially if chewing gum is an ongoing habit.
Finally, don’t forget that digestion begins in the mouth. Saliva starts to break down whatever we chew, and then much is absorbed when we swallow that saliva, which is why artificial ingredients can cause digestive issues, even if we spit out the gum. Worse than that, because ingredients that get absorbed through the walls of the mouth bypass the normal digestive toxin barriers, such as the liver and kidneys, the toxins contained in gum can go straight into our blood stream where they can do the most damage.
So if you have a gum habit, resolve to quit as soon as you can. More than just your teeth is at stake.
If you want to keep your teeth healthy and strong, you must take care of them. At Simply Smiles Dentistry, we can show you how to properly care for your teeth. You will have a great smile that lasts a lifetime.
Until next time…Keep on Smiling!