To Chew or Not To Chew
By Geoffrey R. Harris, MD
Should you be chewing gum? Read on to find out if the rumors about improved memory, a healthier mouth, stress relief, whiter teeth, and weight loss are true.
There are more and more experts touting the benefits of chewing sugarless gum. While some consider it rude, gum is becoming more socially acceptable. I have seen patients who chew gum constantly in order to try to quit smoking, lose weight, or just stay calm. Science is starting to look into gum and its possible benefits to human health. The Wrigley Company even started the Wrigley Science Institute to promote and finance chewing gum research, their website is www.gumisgood.com.
Here is some of the gum research that people are chewing on:
None of this research is especially strong and any possible benefit of gum is likely small. And while I am always leery about promoting research funded by a business with a financial interest in the outcomes, the truth is that I do encourage some of my patients to chew gum. The main reasons I recommend chewing gum are: for weight control in people who need to have something in their mouth to avoid snacking, people who are trying to quit smoking without gaining lots of weight, or patients with chronic dry mouth. Generally, I consider gum chewing pretty benign and low risk, even if any potential benefit might be small. One important thing to say is that I do not recommend chewing gum to anyone with TMJ (Temporomandibular joint disorder), a painful condition that is caused by inflammation in the jaw joint. If you are having ear pain, jaw pain, jaw popping, or headaches with chewing, please see your doctor.
So, chew away, just donít snap your gum.