A dentist has revealed how long to chew gum and what can happen if you keep it in your mouth for too long.
While sugar-free varieties can lower the risk of cavities and help strengthen muscles around the face, munching on it for too long could lead to tooth decay and certain jaw conditions.
‘My recommendation is to chew gum for a maximum of up to 15 minutes,’ Dr Khaled Kasem, chief orthodontist and co-founder of Impress in Barcelona, told DailyMail.com.
Meanwhile, experts have cautioned that swallowing chewing gum could lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Chewing sugar-free gum could help prevent cavities and strengthen muscles around the jaw. However, chewing it for too long could cause tooth decay and worsen jaw conditions
But it’s not all negative. Sugar-free chewing gum has been shown to reduce the chance of cavities.
This is because gum produces saliva, which clears out lingering bits of food and eliminate acids that cause bacteria in the mouth.
This bacteria can then cause cavities.
‘So basically with chewing gum, we can lower the acidity and this way we can avoid or lower the possibility to have dental caries,’ Dr Kasem said.
However, Dr Kasem said if you keep chewing gum for prolonged periods of time, such as a few hours, the enamel, the smooth coating around your teeth, begins wearing away. This is called demineralization.
Dr Khaled Kasem, chief orthodontist and co-founder of Impress in Barcelona, told DailyMail.com to chew gum for no longer than 15 minutes a day
Without enamel, teeth are susceptible to cavities and decay.
Additionally, chewing gum could worsen conditions affecting the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), the two joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull. These are the joints that slide and rotate in front of the ears. They include the mandible and the temporal bone.
These joints control chewing, talking, yawning, and swallowing, according to Johns Hopkins. Chewing gum puts excessive force on them.
‘Chewing gum cannot cause a TMJ problem, but it can aggravate the problem in patients with a TMJ injury,’ Dr Kasem said. ‘So we recommend not to chew gum for patients with TMJ [problems].’
Symptoms of TMJ disorders include pain in the jaw, shoulders, neck or face, jaw stiffness, difficulty opening or closing your mouth, jaw popping or clicking, headaches, earaches, toothaches, and ringing in the ears.
A 2014 study in the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery suggested that chewing gum for longer amounts of time could increase the likelihood of TMJ disorders.
Experts have also cautioned that swallowing chewing gum could lead to a host of GI issues.
This is because the stomach can’t break down gum base, the part that gives gum its ‘chew,’ according to the International Chewing Gum Association (ICGA).
This means it takes longer to digest it, and in rare cases, it can cause a blockage in the intestines.
Additionally, a review in the journal CNS & Neurological Disorders suggested that regularly chewing gum could trigger headaches in people who are prone to them.
Chewing gum could also aggravate other bone and muscular conditions.
‘Patients with some special conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis, these patients should avoid [chewing gum],’ Dr Kasem said.
If you are going to chew gum, Dr Kasem recommends always opting for sugar-free types, specifically those that use artificial sweeteners such as xylitol and sorbitol.
‘Xylitol is the best one,’ he said. ‘It’s a natural sweetener.’
A 2017 review in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine suggested that xylitol prevents the growth of harmful bacteria that cause cavities.
The American Dental Association (ADA) has also said that adding sugar-free gum to a regular dental routine could help reduce the risk of tooth decay.