Is Chewing Gum Good for You?

Chewing gum is a trivial habit that can bring out serious arguments, partly because there are some important health claims made about the benefits or dangers of chewing gum. But are these claims real? Here’s a brief look at some of the claims made about chewing gum and whether they are true or not.

Cavity Prevention: True

Chewing Gum  by Lusheeta on WikimediaProbably the widest-touted benefit of chewing gum is that it will help reduce your risk of cavities. This is true. If you chew sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating or drinking, you can significantly reduce your risk of cavities.

How does this work? First, chewing gum can remove particles from your teeth. Second, the action of chewing stimulates your saliva glands to produce more saliva, which is toxic to oral bacteria. Finally, some sugar-free gums are sweetened with xylitol, which has antibacterial properties.

Weight Loss: False

Another health promise about chewing gum turns out not to be true. Some people think that if they pop in a stick of gum when they’re feeling snacky they can reduce their calorie intake and lose weight. According to a  2013 study, people who chewed gum didn’t eat fewer calories. Instead, the only effect of chewing gum was that gum chewers were less likely to eat fruits at meal times.

Aggravates TMJ: True

TMJ is a disorder of the temporomandibular joint, where your jaw joins your skull. Chewing gum encourages you to bite down on a tough substance repeatedly, which can put additional strain on your jaw joints and muscles. According to a recent study, chewing gum can increase headaches, jaw pain, and other discomfort associated with TMJ.

On a more positive note, we don’t have evidence that chewing gum causes TMJ, so if you don’t have TMJ yet, you’re probably safe to chew gum.

Adding it up, the the cavity prevention benefits of chewing gum are probably worth it, if you don’t have TMJ.

If you are suffering from TMJ, chewing gum may be the least of your worries. For help with your TMJ in San Diego, please call 619-727-6633 for an appointment at Strober Dental.