Varieties of gum with sugar can lead to increased cavities, but those with an artificial sweetener may help prevent cavities. However, one common gum sweetener called aspartame may link to cancer.

Certain kinds of sugar-free gum may cause gastrointestinal symptoms. Health regulatory agencies tend to regard artificial sweeteners as safe, but some medical experts believe more research on their long-term effects is necessary.

This article discusses the side effects and benefits of chewing gum, as well as the safety of the ingredients. It also examines what type of chewing gum a person should choose and answers frequently asked questions.

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Details are below:


Chewing gum varieties that contain sugar can harm teeth health. When bacteria in the mouth act on sugar, they produce acid and dental biofilm, which is a film of bacteria that adheres to the teeth. The acid and biofilm, in turn, can reduce minerals in tooth enamel and cause cavities.

Gastrointestinal symptoms

Some sugar-free chewing gums contain sugar alcohols, such as:

Evidence states that these ingredients may produce gastrointestinal symptoms in some people, such as diarrhea and flatulence (gas in the intestines).

Additionally, sugar alcohol has been frequently linked to irritable bowel syndrome, a condition that causes gastrointestinal symptoms.

Learn more about IBS and food triggers.

While health regulatory agencies generally consider artificial sweeteners — including sugar alcohols — safe, researchers know little about their long-term consequences.

What the current research says

A 2023 study involving 1,157 individuals raises concerns. It found elevated levels of the sugar alcohol erythritol linked to a higher rate of cardiovascular disease, specifically stroke and fatal and nonfatal heart attacks.

Some sugar-free chewing gums contain artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and acesulfame-K, instead of sugar alcohols. Some research — such as a 2022 study — has found a link between a higher intake of this type of artificial sweeteners and an increased cancer risk.

Additionally, a 2018 review notes that long-term use of beverages with artificial sweeteners is associated with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. However, it states that since people use them for cavity prevention for a shorter duration, they would not have such effects.

Despite the above statement from the review and assertions about safety from health oversight agencies, the use of these ingredients is controversial.

The benefits include increasing saliva and reducing cavities.

A certain amount of saliva is necessary for a healthy mouth because it helps with food breakdown, swallowing, and cavity prevention.

When people have a condition known as dry mouth, they do not make enough saliva. Chewing sugar-free gum can stimulate saliva production, so it is one of the treatment measures that some doctors recommend.

Also, the increased saliva can help prevent cavities in the following ways:

  • Saliva contains the minerals calcium and phosphate, which contribute to the health of tooth enamel.
  • Saliva brings protein to the teeth that help protect against dental erosion.
  • Saliva helps clear away the acid from certain foods and beverages that soften tooth enamel.

If a person wishes to chew gum, they should look for varieties with a seal of acceptance from the American Dental Association (ADA). This indicates that the gum has met requirements for safety and effectiveness at providing at least one benefit for the teeth and gums.

Additionally, it is always beneficial to seek advice from a dentist.

The following are some commonly asked questions:

Is it bad to chew gum every day?

Dentists do not advise chewing gum containing sugar at all, especially not every day.

Research from 2007 and 2008 found that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after meals resulted in fewer cavities. This suggests that it may be OK to chew the sugar-free variety daily.

How often is it OK to chew gum?

If people wish to add sugar-free chewing gum to their cavity prevention routine, the frequency may depend on the type of artificial sweetener the gum contains.

The research from 2007 and 2008 used sugar-free gum after meals and suggest that chewing sugar-free gum 2–3 times daily may be an acceptable frequency. However, it is best to ask a dentist for advice.

Who should avoid chewing gum?

Due to the clear link between certain chewing gums containing sugar and the development of cavities, most people may want to avoid this product.

Even though regulatory agencies regard sugar substitutes as safe, some health experts continue to have concerns about their safety.

If a person has a higher risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes, they may consider finding alternative methods of cavity prevention instead of using sugar-free gum.

Certain varieties of chewing gum containing sugar can lead to cavities, and others containing sugar alcohols may cause gastrointestinal symptoms. Due to these effects, people may want to exercise caution when chewing gum regularly.

In contrast, sugar-free gum may help people who have dry mouth and help prevent cavities. Despite these benefits, the medical community is not in complete agreement on the safety of artificial sweeteners because some research raises concerns.

The ADA puts a seal of acceptance on chewing gum varieties that it considers safe and effective. That said, people interested in chewing sugar-free gum should ask their dentist what kind is best for them and how often they should use it.