Let’s take a break from the COVID epidemic and talk about the pros and cons of chewing gum use. What happens if you swallow a gum? Which benefits can it bring, and how can it harm the body? In this article, we’ll answer all of the most popular gum-related questions.
A bit of history: The predecessors of gum, which appeared in the middle of the 19th century, existed for a very long time. Almost six thousand years ago, people chewed birch resin.
Today, some consider it a necessary element of hygiene, while others see only a bad habit. Let’s tell you what the experts think about it.
The health benefits of chewing gum:
- Sugar-free chewing gum actually helps prevent tooth decay in children and adults. It promotes the production of saliva, which mechanically washes the teeth and neutralizes the acid. And the additional component xylitol, for example, slows down the spread of bacteria.
Please remember that gum is not a substitute for toothpaste and dental floss. It only complements oral care!
- Chewing gum freshens your breath after dinner or a cup of coffee. Chewing will not help in case of bad breath associated with smoking, illness, or bad teeth.
- In addition, it helps many people with dry mouth due to various conditions and diseases.
- Rhythmic chewing promotes the production of serotonin, which improves mood. Scientists insist that it may help reduce stress and anxiety, improve concentration, ease fatigue, and lower hunger.
- Contrary to popular myth, gum cannot harm the stomach, but vice versa. The increased production of saliva causes the acid in the esophagus to be neutralized or flushed out faster.
- Nicotine gum as a replacement therapy helps smokers to quit this bad habit more easily.
What happens if I swallow a chewing gum?
In fact, swallowing the gum will not hurt you. It is inert and not digested, but thanks to peristalsis it moves along the gastrointestinal tract and leaves it naturally in a couple of days.
Possible negative effects of gum:
- If you chew constantly, you can achieve unpleasant consequences as a result of increased stress on the chewing muscles. According to doctors, you can use the gum after each meal, for no more than 20 minutes.
- Constant chewing can lead not only to fatigue of the masticatory muscles, but also to pain in the temporomandibular joint and a headache (up to migraines) as a result.
- Some substances (such as sorbitol and xylitol) can cause diarrhea. However, this can only happen in case of “overdose” and in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
- Excessive gum consumption may be a sign of an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
- A case of dangerous hyponatremia (too low sodium level in the blood) as a result of the laxative and diuretic effect of gum has been described. However, the patient with anorexia nervosa consumed about 150 pads per day.