Ask a doc: 'Is it dangerous to swallow gum?'

It might be tempting to swallow chewing gum if there’s no trash can nearby to dispose of it — but is it dangerous to do so?

Though it’s not necessarily a health hazard, swallowing gum is not a good habit, according to Dr. Ari Lamet, a gastroenterologist in Hollywood, Florida.

“Swallowing a piece of gum occasionally should not be an issue if you have a normal GI tract or have not experienced an intestinal blockage,” Lamet told Fox News Digital.

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What about those age-old warnings about gum taking seven years to digest?

The truth is, it doesn’t actually digest at all.

“Gum is non-digestible (and has no nutritional value), so eventually, it will come out in your bowel movements,” Lamet said.

Dr. Kerry Frommer Firestein, a pediatrician and CEO of Allied Physicians Group in New York, agreed that swallowing gum will likely have minimal-to-no impact on your health.

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“The chewy part of the gum is not able to be digested,” she told Fox News Digital. “It will pass through your intestines and come out in a bowel movement within a day or so.”

However, swallowing gum can be more dangerous for some people, the doctors warned.

“If you have had GI surgery or experienced previous blockages, it is best to avoid swallowing gum,” Lamet said.

Swallowing gum could be more dangerous in someone who swallows large quantities on a regular basis, Firestein noted.

It can also be dangerous if swallowed with other non-food items, she added. “They could all mix together and create something that gets stuck in the intestinal tract.”

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Chewing gum can also cause you to swallow more air than usual, she warned — which can cause gas and bloating. 

“It can also cause jaw problems leading to jaw pain, headaches and earaches,” she said.

Even if you don’t fall into one of the higher-risk categories, it’s best not to make swallowing gum a habit, according to Lamet.

“The best way to avoid an intestinal blockage is not to swallow it at all.”

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