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Chewing sugar-free gum is good for your teeth. But what about the rest of your body? Would constantly chewing gum have any negative effects?

An argument I have heard is that the increased amounts of saliva in your mouth constantly signal to your stomach that food is on the way. The stomach produces acids for decomposing the food, but the food never comes. According to the argument, these acids may be harmful to an empty stomach, even leading to stomach ulcers.

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    Chewing gum improves memory – Oliver_C Apr 23 '11 at 15:07
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    so another antiquated etiquette (no chewing gum in class, which served no useful purpose other than preventing gum from being stuck to the bottom of the desk) turns out to be more harmful than beneficial. Whodathunkit. – erikthebassist Apr 23 '11 at 15:59
  • @erik when I was in high school about 2 years ago, one of my teachers actually gave us gum and peppermints to chew/eat while taking a test. – Earlz Apr 23 '11 at 17:13
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    Anecdotal case: chewing gum helps me to focus on the task at hand A LOT. – user288 Apr 23 '11 at 18:06
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    @Job Chocolate also kills dogs (and that Snopes article itself states that xylitol is safe for humans). I wouldn't trust answers.yahoo.com to tell me how to get to answers.yahoo.com. – iamnotmaynard Sep 1 '14 at 20:13
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In 1996, there was a publication by Greaves et al. in the Lancet titled "An air stewardess with puzzling diarrhoea" about a stewardess who presented with a 7-year history of abdominal pain and diarrhoea (up to 10 times a day). The cause they finally found was overuse of sorbitol-containing chewing gum. (Unfortunately the article can't be accessed for free)

There are more case reports like this, for example in the British Medical Journal where people consuming sorbitol in amounts of about 20-30 grams a day (one chewing gum stick contains about 1.25 g, apparently) had similar problems.

The authors conclude

that sorbitol consumption can cause not only chronic diarrhoea and functional bowel problems but also considerable unintended weight loss (about 20% of usual body weight). Thus, the investigation of unexplained weight loss should include detailed dietary history with regard to foods containing sorbitol.

Lots of related links can be found here - it appears to be more frequent than I thought, even Vitamin C supplements containing sorbitol have been found as a cause of diarrhea...

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    can attest to sorbitol (or rather chewing gum containing it, which doesn't rule out other ingredients, obviously) causing diarrhea... Of course the weight loss that results is probably mostly liquids lost because of diarrhea. – jwenting Jul 14 '11 at 8:25
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Sugar-free gum usually contains Maltitol or Sorbitol. These sweeteners are laxatives and can cause diarrhea if consumed in large enough quantities.

  • How many pieces of gum are we talking? I usually get through 3 a day. – Nobody May 11 '11 at 15:55
  • There is an interesting link in the Wikipedia article on sorbitol side effects – Frank May 11 '11 at 22:10
  • 3 pieces of gum a day won't do it. Try 3 packets of gum a day... – jwenting Jul 14 '11 at 8:25
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Chewing gum all day can aggravate a TMJ injury if you have one.

Overworking the jaw muscles can also strengthen them, which is bad considering some people take botox injections to weaken the mastication muscles as a treatment for TMJ.

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