Open Letter to Cousin Hanging About Chewing Gum

May 6, 2018
By , Haining, China

Hi, Hanghang!

     

How’s everything going? College life isn’t so leisure as you think. By the way, does Aunt Shao still prevent you from eating snacks? Ha, I know how that feel. In my mind, you like chewing gum much, just like many of us do. I like gums, too, until recently, I learned something about the harm of chewing gum in our school library, and that remind me of you at once. In fact, chewing gum might do harm to not only your oral cavity and joint of your jaw, but also other parts of your body.


It’s true that chewing gum can clean your mouth, as we all believe, but be careful about what kind of gum that you are chewing. Professor Mujib, together with his partners, other experts of oral health, claims in an article that “a 36% higher caries increment in children who had consumed 2 pieces of sugar-containing chewing gum per day for 2 years when compared with matched controls who had not chewed any gum has been reported” (72). That sounds funny, doesn’t? However, it is reasonable. We have been told all the time that eating too much sugar will cause tooth decay, chewing sugar-containing gums is just the same. That increases the time that your teeth contacting sugar, as well as the increase of tooth decay.


In this case, you may ask, “what if I change the sugar-containing gum to sugar-free gum?” That seems to be a possible solution, and that is what a lot of studies claim, but there is still other substance in the gum that might damage our teeth. According to an article published in British Dental Journal, the acid flavouring in gums could corrode our teeth as well (Nadimi 3). To be honest, I’m afraid of acids, especially which have corrosivity, as you will learn later in your chemistry class, it will be better to stay away from them.


Assume that you found a sugar-free gum with no acid flavor after reading the list of ingredients carefuly. Great! You might think. However, the harm of chewing gum is not merely the effect on our teeth, it will also affect other parts of your mouth, like your jaw. According to Reza Tabrizi, from the Oral and Dental Health Care Research Center, and his partners, a study they did shows that chewing gum for a long time might cause pain and increase the risk of temporomandibular disorder depending on individual (1818), which is a disorder of your joint, and that will lead to pain and other symptoms while chewing. That will cause pain on your jaw and limit its activity. You must have the experience, when you eat some tough thing and you have to chew it for a long time, then you will feel pain on your cheek after chewing. Compared with eating your lunch or dinner, chewing gum is a much longer process, which will probably damage your muscles. Though the odds are small, I still suggest you pay more attention to it.


There are also some other funny effects of chewing gum. Study also shows chewing gum affects what we eat. Some studies find out that chewing gum can help us lose weight as I saw when I was searching sources. Sounds like good news, but unfortunately that might not be true. An article published in Time pointed out that, “people who chewed gum frequently ate fewer meals than non-chewers—but tended to load up on calories when they did eat” (Markham). See? Though you eat less frequently, you gain more energy once, it seems not helpful to help you lose weight. In another research, Dr. Swoboda and Dr. Temple from University at Buffalo claims that chewing gum will reduce the desire to eat fruit and the nutrition contained in your meal will also decrease (149). That means if we chew gum frequently, our diet might be unhealthier and lead to other negative effects. In my opinion, excessive or unhealthy food intake will also do harm to our digestive system, including our stomach. In order to eat healthier and protect our digestive system, it will be better not to chew gum so frequently.
But does gum have no benefits at all? No, there are also many benefits, for example, lots of study show that chewing gum can improve our alertness, memory and it’s beneficial to many other aspects. But in my opinion, these are only temporary benefits, but the physical harm might remain for a long time or even forever. For example, if sugar-containing gum causes decay on your teeth, then they won’t get back and you have to suffer the inconvenience caused by it. You may have to see the dentist frequently or pay a lot of money on dental treatment. Do you want that? I guess not. In my opinion, you can never be too careful, especially when it comes to physical health. You must have heard this kind of words many times and may get bored, but we tell you these only for your own good and we hope that you can have a healthy body.


To sum up, chewing gum has negative effects on both your teeth, your diet and sometimes your muscles. But that doesn’t mean you can’t chewing gum at all, I’m just suggesting you reduce the frequency of chewing gum, maybe not every day. In addition, remember to choose sugar-free gum which has the least acidic flavor content carefully. By doing so, you can cut down the harm to the lowest and enjoy the fun of chewing gum without worrying.


Best wishes,
Cousin Qichen






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