Why Chewing Too Much Gum Can Be Bad for Your Health

rows of gumball machines

Are you one of the millions of Americans who enjoy chewing gum? Chewing gum has become a common habit for a number of reasons, including stress reduction, to helping quit smoking, reducing food cravings, and just plain enjoyment.

Unfortunately, this seemingly harmless habit can a have a number of negative side effects on your health and can even damage your health.

Here are four gum-related side effects:

Gum Chewing Can Cause Tooth Damage

Chewing gum can expose your teeth to high levels of tooth decay-promoting sugar. Sugar-free gum is not much better for your teeth, but for a different reason. While all gums contain flavorings, sugar-free gum often contains higher concentrations of acidic flavorings and preservations, which can cause dental erosion. Dental erosion is a slow loss of calcium from your teeth, which, if allowed to continue long enough, can cause teeth to essentially dissolve. Worse, since sugarless gum, particularly those containing cavity-fighting xylitol, is perceived as being ‘healthier’, people also tend to chew more of it which exacerbates the potential for tooth erosion.

Gum Chewing Releases Mercury from Fillings

Some dental filling material can contain mercury. Although a toxic neurotoxin in pure form and in certain quantities, mercury is generally considered safe for dental use in fillings and poses no serious health risk when properly used. However, chewing gum can react with mercury amalgam, causing mercury fumes to be released when you chew gum. Although not considered a serious health risk, it is one more reason to avoid excessive gum chewing if you have fillings.

Gum Chewing Can Cause Gastrointestinal Issues

Chewing falsely signals to your body that you are eating, which causes the release of excess stomach acid along with enzymes and other acids used to digest food. This can cause a number of digestive issues in addition to bloating. In addition, artificial sweeteners used in sugar-free gum, such as sorbitol and mannitol, can cause diarrhea in otherwise healthy people.

Chewing Gum Can Cause Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)

Excessive gum chewing can cause or worsen a painful jaw disorder called TMD, a chronic, painful disorder in the temporomandibular or jaw joint. TMD symptoms include a popping or clicking when chewing or talking; headaches; pain in the jaw, face, ears, neck, or temple; and trouble speaking, moving your jaw, or opening your mouth.

If you are a frequent gum chewer who may be showing signs of any of the above symptoms of gum over-indulgence, we can help. At Rigby Advanced Dental, your smile is our specialty. Our dedicated team is dedicated to improving our patients’ lives one smile at a time by providing exceptional service.

From routine cleaning and preventive care to full-mouth restorations, Dr. Brent Rigby can provide a comprehensive range of compassionate, professional dental services for every member of your family. Contact us today for an appointment!