Chewing gum can help relieve ear popping on flights, quickly freshen your breath, and increase saliva production to help control oral bacteria. Many people chew sugarless gum because gum with sugar increases the risk of cavities. If you excessively chew gum, even if it’s sugarless, it may be more harmful than you may think.

Many types of sugarless candy contain sorbitol, a sweetener that has laxative properties and is difficult for the small intestine to absorb. Each stick of gum has around 1.25g of the ingredient. Consuming five to 20 grams of the sweetener can cause minor stomach problems like cramps and bloating. People who consume more than 20g of sorbitol each day are likely to have bowel trouble and diarrhea. Because of the bowel trouble, excessive sorbitol consumption can lead to severe weight loss. Studies show that some people who chew gum excessively have lost up to 20 percent of their normal body weight.

As an alternative gum with xylitol has been approved by the ADA. Xylitol is a sweetener that reduces the potential for tooth decay. However, there’s another problem to consider. Excessively chewing gum may also cause joint and muscle problems in the jaw.

You use eight different muscles to chew. Consistent chewing makes the muscles tight, often causing pain, headaches, and sore jaws. Chewing on one side of your mouth can create a muscle imbalance. Putting continuous pressure on your jaw joints can also lead to  temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ disorder.

The stickiness from gum can also ruin your dental work. If you’re a gum addict, you should meet with Dr. Villani to discuss how chewing gum is affecting your oral health. Contact Brighton Family Dental at (617) 562-5210 to schedule an appointment today.