Is chewing gum healthy? : 10 dentists recommended gum
We have all been told to stay away from gums as they are unhealthy and detrimental to our health. There are gums recommended by dentists that are healthy and offer beneficial results to the teeth.
These gums are made of healthy substances unlike the vast majority of gums filled with lots of unhealthy and dangerous ingredients that are harmful to the body.
Nutritional value of chewing gum
In 100 grams of gum:
Total fat =0.3g
Potassium = 2mg
Carbohydrates = 97g
Dietary fiber = 2.4g
Sugar = 66g
Are there any healthy and approved gum?
The answer to the question will be a big yes! There are definitely healthy gum that are recommended by dentist and approved by FDA, these gums are made up of certain constituent that contributes to making these few gums healthy for consumption.
All chewing gums are not the same and are definitely not made with the same ingredients though there are major ingredients that a gum must contain.
Some brands are sugar-free while others are made of artificial sweeteners like aspartame and the few healthy ones are made of natural sugar alcohol like xylitol.
Lots of research has been made and from the studies, certain factors and requirements are needed for gum to be considered safe.
Characteristics of a healthy gum
• Gums with sugar alcohol
Most brands of gum contain artificial sweeteners, people believe that gums made with artificial sweeteners are healthy therefore most people pick them over other brands.
However, gums containing artificial sweetener like aspartame has been linked to certain health diseases though this claims lack evidential research and proof.
Gum that contains naturally occurring sugar alcohol like xylitol which is known to control the spread of bacteria. These bacteria are responsible for the build of plaque (sticky covering that keeps forming on the teeth) as well as cavities in the teeth.
Gums with xylitol are considered healthy and appropriate for consumption by FDA and dentists. When next you go grocery shopping and you want to pick out a packet of chewing gum make sure you check through the ingredient to find xylitol, erythritol, and other naturally occurring sugar.
• No Aspartame
Make sure you avoid chewing gums that contain the artificial sweetener aspartame. Although it relationship with certain diseases including heart conditions has not been scientifically proven however a constant intake of aspartame is not healthy for the body.
Don’t hurriedly pick up any kind of chewing gum when shopping as they might not be suitable for your consumption.
• Avoid sugar free gum with fruity flavour
A lot of fruity flavoured sugar-free gum are made up of ingredients with high acidic content and this may be harmful to your health. This acidity is not healthy to the teeth especially the enamel(could lead to erosion of the enamel).
Tip: Make sure you look through the next packet of chewing gum you pick at the mall in order to ensure the health of your teeth and that of your kids.
Look out for gums with xylitol, erythritol, or cane sugar and ensure that you pick brands that contain them as they are the healthy gums as proven by FDA and dentists.
The constituent of chewing gum
Chewing gums are composed of different ingredients and just like any other processed food some ingredients might be quite good for consumption while others are harmful to the health.
Note: Ingredients for different brands may vary with only a few similarities.
Ingredients and it uses:
This is responsible for the degree of sweetness of particular chewing gum. Different kinds of sweeteners are used including aspartame, xylitol, erythritol, beet sugar and corn syrup.
Most processed foods uses preservatives to enhance the lifespan of their products. Gums are not exempted butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is used in most chewing gums.
This ingredient makes the gum chewable. It is responsible for the resilience in the gum that keeps it away from been crushed like the regular sweet.
acts as the adhesive used to hold gum together. It adds strength to the gum.
People love different flavours, it adds an additional taste or sweetness to the gum.
Responsible for the texture of the gum, example of filler used is calcium carbonate
Their use is just like their name, they keep the moisture of the gum and prevents them from hardening.
When you go shopping and you pick a packet of chewing gum, while flipping through the ingredients and you couldn’t find the above listed constituents, you might be disappointed.
Most time some manufacturers may generalize certain ingredients and refer to them as the gum base. The next time you see gum base listed among the ingredients of chewing gum, they are basically referring to the combination of resin, fillers, and softeners.
How healthy are the ingredients of the chewing gum?
Gum is a relatively safe product for consumption.
A lot of people keep asking if these ingredients used in the manufacturing of chewing gum are actually healthy.
We strongly advise that you should stick with gums that are recommended by your dentist or approved by the FDA.
Let’s look into most of the ingredients used to make chewing gum in order to determine if they are healthy or not.
This is an artificial sweetener used as an alternative for the regular table sugar (sucrose), while most people view aspartame as a better choice than the former(sucrose) certain research has linked aspartame to certain health challenges including weight gain and heart disease.
Although this claim is controversial and more research has to be carried out to prove the efficacy of the claim.
• Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
The preservative BHT is quite popular in the family of processed food as it offers them a longer lifespan on the shelf.
Studies carried out on animals have hinted the possibility of high doses of butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) causing cancer. However, research has differed and the full effects of these preservatives cannot be pinpointed.
More research has to be carried out in order to sustain the claims.
The FDA listed out the recommended dosage of BHT for individuals based on their body weight.
• Titanium Dioxide
This product is used to smoothen and whiten products giving them a more delicate texture, however, titanium dioxide has been linked to certain organ disorders.
Some research has shown that titanium dioxide could be carcinogenic but it requires more research to prove the claims.
• Acesulfame potassium
This is also an artificial sweetener that contains certain ingredients that are carcinogenic. It could also negatively affect certain organs in the body such as the liver and kidney.
10 dentists recommended chewing gum
These gums are approved by the dentist as healthy and sugar free.
2. Extra sugar free gum
3. Ice breakers ice cubes
4. Stride sugarless gum
9. Glee gum
Benefits of a healthy chewing
• Reduces risks of cavities
Sugar free gum are beneficial to dental health, they help to prevent the occurrence of cavities in the tooth. Though sugar free gum are really effective in preventing tooth decay, some studies have shown that gums with xylitol have a higher percentage of minimizing the amount of bacteria in the mouth.
After every meal, plaques are built in the teeth leading to erosion of the teeth, to avoid this it is important that you chew a gum containing xylitol after every meal for an estimated period of 20 minutes.
The gum leads to the production of saliva which helps to wash off the acids that were generated by the food or drink just consumed.
• Helps with weight management
Research has shown that chewing gum can help to reduce impulsive eating and overly snacking on sugary food substances.
Chewing gum is low in calories but is also quite sweet, studies show that munching on chewing gum when experiencing sudden cravings can be mistaken by the body.
The chewing gum feeds the body with the sugar it requires while adding little or no extra gain to the body.
Some studies also claim that chewing gum helps to reduce appetite however more research has to be made on this benefit to gain more clarity and evidence.
• Eliminate Bad breath
I don’t think I have found anyone who loves the smell of bad breath, it is quite an unpleasant smell though most people have no idea that their breath stinks.
Bacteria in the mouth are responsible for bad breath, mouth wash and toothpaste are mostly used to kill off this stink. However, chewing gum can also function in this capacity, chewing gum not only eliminates the bad breath it also reduces the percentage of the causative of bad breath (I.e it minimizes the bacteria in the mouth, this helps to reduce and eventually eliminate bad breath).
• Improves focus
Studies have shown that chewing gum can help a person stay focused and alert when engaging in particular tasks or projects.
The action of moving the jaw(the masseter muscle) while chewing helps to keep the brain alert and focused on a particular task.
Chewing gum during the day can also help to drive off sleepiness, helps one to understand matters clearly, and make smart and beneficial decisions.
More research needs to be made to understand the relationship between chewing gum and the ability to focus on a given task.
• Alleviate Stress
Chewing gum had also shown the ability to relieve the feeling of stress, the production of the stress hormone cortisol is maximally reduced due to the process of chewing.
It helps to keep you focus on your nervousness while working yourself slowly towards the process of releasing it.
• Improves metabolic rate
Though chewing gum does not play a very direct role in the metabolic rate of the body it stimulates certain processes that help to improve metabolism.
Chewing gum leads to the production of saliva and activation of digestive juice which acts on the food substances thereby preparing the body for metabolism.
• Prevents plagues build up
Plagues are built up after every meal, they have the sticky film that covers up the tooth. Chewing gum especially those that contain xylitol helps to prevent the build of these plagues by reducing the amount of bacteria present in the mouth.
Tip : Ensure that you always keep a chewing gum that contains xylitol close by as it can save you from many embarrassing situations (examples bad breath).
Effects of chewing gum
• Buying gums without properly checking for the ingredients can be detrimental to your health as certain ingredients used in manufacturing a particular brand of chewing gum might be harmful to the body.
• Most sugar alcohols that are used as sweeteners can cause irritation of the digestive system and lead to diarrhea. This is due to the laxative effect possess by these sugar alcohols.
• Some chewing gum brands contain high quantities of sugar, excessive sugar intake is linked to certain health challenges such as obesity and diabetes.
• Few studies have shown chewing gum can cause headaches though further evidential research has to be made.
• Tooth decay can be linked to chewing of gums that are packed with sugar or artificial sweeteners.
• Temporal mandibular joint disorder can occur as a result of excessive movement of the jaw.
• Never buy a chewing gum without looking through the ingredients it was made with.
• If you have a dental issue, consult your dentist to know if it’s okay for you to chew gum.
• Avoid fruity flavoured sweetened chewing gum.
• If it has aspartame as an ingredient, you should consider buying another brand.
• Chew gums moderately, there is absolutely no need to make chewing gum an addiction.
• If you experience any side effects like pain in the jaw or headaches while chewing gum, it is important that you immediately stop chewing gum. If pain persists you should definitely consult your dentist.
• Be cautious about the type of gums you give your kids, you can ask for recommendations for your child from the dentist.
Don’t ever take chewing gum as a substitute for flossing or brushing.
Make sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss regularly to avoid leaving a residue of food substances that might harm your teeth.
Have you been using healthy gum? Or you properly had no idea about this? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section.