Harvard Health Letter

By gum, it might be good for you

Recent studies show that gum chewing may speed recovery from bowel surgery.

Chewing gum — banned in schools and Singapore, discouraged by dentists, deplored as bad etiquette — is proving to have some unlikely health benefits.

Let's start with your teeth. Chewing gum generates extra saliva, which may help wash away the Streptococcus mutans bacteria that are the main cause of cavities. Trident and some other sugarless brands are sweetened with xylitol, which is chemically related to sugar and just as sweet, but apparently doesn't "feed" cavity-causing bacteria the way regular sugar does. Sorbitol, a sugar alcohol like xylitol, is also used to sweeten sugarless gums, but a review published in 2006 concluded that xylitol is the better cavity fighter.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »