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Excessive chewing gum poses health risks

Natalia Sokolowska | Journalism

Chewing gum can be a public nuisance, but did you know overuse can have some nasty effects on your health? Image courtesy of Reference, com. Photo by Natalie Shuttleworth, Moment Open, Getty Images.

Chewing gum instead of eating breakfast in the morning or brushing teeth after a meal has become an everyday habit, which isn’t as dangerous as cigarettes or drugs, of course. Some might even say that it’s not dangerous at all. But are they right?

Believe it or not, the simple pleasure of minty fresh chewing gum can affect not only your mouth, but also lower parts of your body.

According to “Chew on This…,” an article published in The Atlantic, “humans have been chewing gum for at least 5,000 to 9,000 years.” Of course, since then its form and purpose has drastically changed.

Back then eating the sap of spruce trees was used to fix hunting tools, treat oral infections or maybe repair pots. Although unproven, some speculation is that people might have chewed gum for pleasure; however, its main goal was to help in some way.

Nowadays, juicy and fruity gums are used only for fun and aren’t helpful at all, no matter where you stand, especially if you are standing on a discarded piece of gum carelessly thrown on the ground.

 “1 in 3 Americans over the age of 30 have severe periodontal (gum) disease,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  An infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth, it is a major cause of tooth loss in adults and directly attributable to overuse of chewing gum, poor oral hygiene, and a diet high in sugary and starchy food. Gum disease causes bad breath, sensitive teeth, painful chewing or change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.

Furthermore, when your gums are inflamed, bacteria from your mouth moves into your bloodstream. This can lead to an increased risk for serious health problems.

People with long-standing gum disease are more likely to suffer a stroke, heart disease, and chronic lung problems. Gum inflammation can also make it much more difficult for a diabetic person to control blood sugar. Also, women with this disease are seven to eight times more likely to give birth prematurely to low-birth-weight babies.

Although chewing a piece of gum after a meal, or anytime of day, feels fresh and clean, the benefits are short-term and no replacement for thorough brushing and flossing.

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