Bubblegum, bubblegum, in a dish... how many pieces?
February 17, 2007 7:05 PM   Subscribe

Will swallowing my chewing gum / bubble gum actually have any ill effect on me?

I chew gum sometimes. And when I say that, what I really mean is "When I sit down with gum, I will start chewing and keep chewing until it is all gone." However, most of the time I don't bother to spit it out, having no trash can in range, and just swallow it. Will swallowing large amounts of it (say, 20 pieces of bubble yum in a short timespan) have any ill effects on my health?

If it doesn't, why don't companies make candy bars/etc like chewing gum? (Yes, for the record, I do just plain eat it sometimes. Bad habit of mine, but hey- it's tasty, and it keeps my fingernails out of my mouth.
posted by Glitter Ninja to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I once heard that if chewing gum didn't pass thru your system it would take 8 years for your body to fully digest it. I know that doesn't answer your question, but it's something to think about.
posted by dobbs at 7:46 PM on February 17, 2007

The Straight Dope's answer to this is short: Like all indigestible things that are small enough, indigestible gum base is eliminated from the digestive system by the usual means.

Snopes' Urban Legend Reference Pages agrees, and their answer has a lot more information.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:52 PM on February 17, 2007

Meant to add: the upshot seems to be that its bad effect would be constipation or other digestive-system-slowdown problems. Snopes says that only 15-30% of a piece of gum is the indigestible stuff.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:56 PM on February 17, 2007

I always forget that I have a piece of gum in my mouth and I'm forced to swallow it before I go into a meeting of some sort. I've been doing this for awhile now and haven't experienced any adverse effects. As far as I can tell, I'm digesting it but I haven't been too dedicated to actually check. As long as you aren't swallowing mass loads, I don't think it should be too big of a problem but IANAD, so don't quote me on it ;)
posted by 913 at 8:10 PM on February 17, 2007

posted by jeffamaphone at 8:17 PM on February 17, 2007

I used to regularly swallow my gum. (A few times just plain 'eating' it, as you described.) I've stopped doing so in the past few years because swallowed gum seems to be a primary heartburn instigator for me. Along with Sriracha sauce or fatty meats.
posted by xiojason at 8:27 PM on February 17, 2007

I haven't checked deliberately, but twice or thrice I've seen gum at the other end. It just passes straight on through.
posted by goo at 3:32 AM on February 18, 2007

I don't think I have ever voluntarily thrown out used gum. I always swallow it. It's like food.
posted by Hugh Jorgan at 5:03 AM on February 18, 2007

I always swallow my gum. I've been doing it for over 10 years now. No sign of bubble gum trees in my belly yet.
posted by lodev at 5:13 AM on February 18, 2007

If you eat enough fiber and have regular bowel movements, you should actually be able to locate your gum the standard twelve hours after swallowing it.
posted by jefficator at 9:08 AM on February 18, 2007

I've swallowed nearly every single piece of gum that has entered my mouth for the last 33 years, with no ill effects. Never noticed if it passed through or not.
posted by spinturtle at 5:18 PM on February 18, 2007

I'm a gumswallower too. Never noticed any ill effects either.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:08 PM on February 18, 2007

« Older She asked him to do what!?   |   the art of pouring a beer. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.