Is chewing gum a bad thing, or the best little hygiene secret.
We all do it on occasion, and some of us all the time. The common, “hey, wanna piece?”, scenario happens to all of us. Sometimes as mere generosity or, more embarrassingly as a hint that ya need to freshen up, or the conversation may have to come to a sharp end.
Whatever the motivation, this question remains, “is this bad for our health both from an oral hygiene and a whole body point of view”.
Well lets look at the different factors. The type of gum, how much, and the post hygiene practices.
Let’s start with the basics…
Consuming anything takes its toll on the body. In terms of gum, the chewing can slowly wear down tissue in the jaw hinge, and the acidity of sugars effect the PH balance of the saliva and the insulin levels in the body.
These are all varying factors based on the type of gum. Obviously a super sweet gum ball or fat chunk of watermelon Hubba Bubba compared to a xylitol sweetened little tab from a health food store is a chasm of difference.
There are two primary motivations for chewing gum. The pleasure of taste, freshening breath, and many variations in-between. Another reason is to clean off the pegs, but, really!… who does that, some I suppose, but they do like the fresh breath spin-off!
Let’s cover off sweeteners…
First, xylitol is by far the best and is found in most health store gums. According to Xylitol Canada it is good for you…
“Xylitol is naturally occurring in many of the fruits and vegetables we eat on a daily basis. Once extracted and processed it yields a white, crystalline granule that can be used in any recipe that calls for sugar. It’s good for your teeth, stabilizes insulin and hormone levels, promotes good health and has none of the negative side effects of white sugar or artificial sweeteners. It contains only 2.4 calories per gram and is slowly absorbed as a complex carbohydrate. Xylitol looks like sugar, tastes like sugar, and is the same sweetness as sugar – making it the ideal natural sugar replacement.”
Chewing gum will help produce more saliva, which will speed up the neutralization of the pH in the mouth. Every time you eat any form of carbohydrate, the pH in the mouth drops to an acidic level and takes about 20 minutes to neutralize again. This is the most vulnerable time when caities are formed. Xylitol chewing gum is particularly helpful when someone is at school or work and unable to brush their teeth after lunch.
Second is Nutrasweet®, which is actually a brand name for aspartame. Ok so this one is riddled with controversy, but we are gonna take a stand, just because we believe in consuming ingredients that are as natural as possible. Here is the position of a post from a website blog called policymic.com
“Aspartame is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar and has little to no calories. It is composed of 40% aspartic acid, 50% phenylalanine and 10% methanol; aspartame is FDA-approved. Aspartame has a lengthy list of varied negative side effects. First and foremost, people suffering from the disease phenylketonuria should not consume aspartame, as their body cannot break down the phenylalanine. Even for a person without phenylketonuria, ingesting tiny amounts of phenylalanine can be a mental health risk; phenylalanine can concentrate in the brain and excessive levels of it in the brain disrupts serotonin levels, leading to emotional disorders. As for the other ingredients, aspartic acid, because it is an excitotoxin, has the ability to increase nerve cell stimulation, leading to rapid firing effects. Further, this overstimulation may result in the development of chronic nervous system disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Methanol, when consumed, distributes throughout the entire human body, metabolizing into formaldehyde. Methanol has its own seemingly endless list of potential negative physical side effects: it may cause retina damage in the eyes, preterm delivery, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, autism, interferes with DNA processes. Methanol is also known to be a carcinogen, as it feeds cancer cells. Aspartame, as a substance formed by the combination of the previously described “ingredients,” has an incredible list of harmful side effects. The most common is headache, but other symptoms of aspartame include: visual hallucinations, mood changes, panic attacks, manic episodes, dizziness, nervousness, memory impairment, nausea, temper outbursts, depression, seizures, numbness, rashes, insomnia, hearing loss, vertigo and loss of taste.”
Coming in third on the list is the nemesis of every dentist, refined sugar. This is in the gum balls and the bubble gums. This really has no benefit at all besides a gold of serotonin which does not last long. These gums are obviously not good for you, so much that this requires not lengthy third part reference. We will say that these sugars eat into the enamel and get in between the teeth and gums and create havoc.
Alright so is any of this any good? Yes, natural xylitol gums do remove surface residue from the teeth and in some cases pull out particles of food left over from meals, ya might want to pop in a fresh piece after any gum food extraction.
here are some natural gum brands that we recommend to use along with regular brushing and flossing.
Glee Gum for kids