Chewing gum has a lot of benefits — it makes your breath smell nicer, it can get food out of your teeth, and it gives your mouth to do. However, it also has a negative side as well. If you are part of the 59% of the population that regularly chews gum, read on to learn about 7 hidden dangers of chewing gum, and why you should quit today.

Chewing gum.

Chewing Gum Often Causes Jaw Problems

Chewing on one side more often than the other can lead to a jaw muscle imbalance, and consistently chewing gum in general can trigger TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, a painful chronic joint condition in the jaw. This condition is caused by overuse of the jaw muscles. Side effects include: pain, a clicking noise when you open or close the jaw, jaw tightness or even a locked jaw.

Chewing Gum Can Cause Wrinkles

Constantly screwing up your face into the same face will cause wrinkles over time. When you chew gum, you do exactly that, as well as stretching your face out into positions that can cause wrinkles. Now, that doesn’t mean that eating dinner every night will cause wrinkles, but if you chew gum all day long, you are putting extra stress and movement on your skin, potentially causing wrinkles. For more ways that you are unknowingly giving yourself wrinkles every day, check out this blog.

Chewing Gum is Full of Aspartame

Most gum — especially sugar-free gum — has a hidden ingredient called aspartame. Your body breaks down aspartame by metabolizing it into wood alcohol and formaldehyde (two things that you don’t want inside of your body!). Aspartame has been linked to diarrhea, bloating, gas, cancer, birth defects, tumors, and weight gain. Many people are allergic to it without even realizing it. It’s effects are cumulative, meaning that the more you take in, the worse the effects will become. The sad truth is that even if you don’t swallow your gum, it can still enter your body through your saliva and through the walls of your mouth. Avoid gums with artificial sweeteners if you still insist on chewing.

Chewing Gum Can Cause Headaches

Recent studies have linked chewing gum and migraine headaches in teens. Turns out that when teens stopped chewing gum for a few weeks, their headaches were greatly reduced and even eliminated. Researchers believe that chewing gum headaches are linked to both TMJ and aspartame exposure. If you have chronic headaches, try cutting back on your gum chewing, cutting back on sugar and artificial sweeteners, limiting soda, getting enough sleep, and drinking plenty of water.

Blowing bubble gum

Chewing Gum Can Release Mercury From Your Fillings

If you have mercury fillings, chewing gum can actually release that mercury into your bloodstream in vapor form. Those who chew gum more often have more mercury vapor released into their bloodstream. Mercury poisoning can make you quite ill, can mimic the effects of MS, and even cause a degeneration of your brain. If possible, have your mercury fillings removed by your dentist, and stop chewing gum.

Chewing Gum Can Dissolve Your Teeth

Every time you eat candy or chew gum, you are swishing your teeth with a sugar wash that can erode your teeth. Sugar-free gum is not much better, as it often contains preservatives and acidic flavoring that can also cause tooth damage. Over time, the enamel on your teeth will slowly dissolve due to your chewing gum habit. It is much better to rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth to get rid of a bad taste or any food in your mouth.

Chewing Gum Can Cause Gastrointestinal Problems

After meals, your body needs time to digest properly, but chewing gum gives your body signals that it’s about to digest food again, causing it to be overactive. While chewing gum, you also swallow quite a bit of air. This gets trapped in your digestive system, causing cramps, bloating, and more. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, chewing gum can worsen its effects. Some people have even developed ulcers from putting too much stress on their digestive system. Artificial sweeteners can also put undue stress on the digestive system, causing many of the above symptoms as well as diarrhea.