What Happens If You Accidentally Swallow Gum?

Have you ever wondered what happens if you accidentally swallow gum? Don’t worry; when you swallow gum accidentally, it might seem concerning, but contrary to the common myth that it stays in your stomach for years, it typically passes through your digestive system without causing any harm. [1]

| Chewing Gum and Its Journey in Your Body | How Gum is Digested? | Gum Swallowing Good or Bad for a Child | The Bottom Line | References |

Chewing Gum and Its Journey in Your Body

Chewing gum is a soft, rubbery substance for chewing but not swallowing. When you chew gum, your saliva breaks down its flavour and softens it, making it enjoyable to chew. However, once swallowed, the gum’s journey in your body changes. The gum base, an essential ingredient that gives gum its elasticity, can’t be broken down by your stomach’s digestive juices like regular food.

Yet, your body doesn’t stop working. The swallowed gum travels through your digestive system, eventually leaving in your stool. Swallowing occasionally doesn’t cause problems, but making it a habit isn’t recommended. So, please keep it in your mouth rather than sending it down the hatch.

Let’s explore whether any ingredients in chewing gum might render it harmful if it becomes a regular practice.

Are There Any Harmful Ingredients in Gum?

Interested in knowing what makes up your everyday chewing gum? Typically, it includes a combination of components: 

  • a gum base
  • sweeteners
  •  flavourings, and occasionally
  • softening or preserving agents.

While these ingredients aren’t harmful, some concerns might arise due to the gum base, which includes synthetic polymers, waxes, and elastomers, which aren’t easily broken down by the digestive system.

Gum often includes a powdered or hard polyol coating. European studies suggest steering clear of gums due to their usual inclusion of artificial flavours, sweeteners like aspartame, and preservatives like BHT. [2] Although these ingredients are considered safe for consumption, their indigestible nature can alter the behaviour of gum when swallowed, potentially posing issues if eating gum becomes a frequent habit.

Knowing it’s best to have gum in moderation, as Chewing gum has benefits for digestion as well.

Can Gum Get Stuck in Stomach?

Can chewing gum cause a blockage in your stomach if swallowed, despite being a fun treat or a rapid solution for bad breath? Well, swallowed gum typically moves through the digestive system without getting fully broken down. Contrary to the belief that it stays in the stomach for years, gum usually exits the body within a few days. 

So, What Happens If You Accidentally Swallow Gum? Which is very unlikely!

Collection of Gum:  Bezoar

Although obvious, the main reason for gum intake is to freshen the breath. On the other hand, swallowing large quantities of gum might create a clump, known as a bezoar (a medical term for a collection of material, such as gum), which could occasionally lead to blockages. Bezoars may lead to reduced appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and a sensation of fullness even after consuming small amounts of food. [3]

However, these situations are exceptionally uncommon. In most cases, gum passing through the digestive tract doesn’t cause any significant problems. Even for safety, once the gum loses its flavour and enjoyment, dispose of it in the trash instead of swallowing it.

How Gum is Digested?

Expecting gum to get digested in your body is something undesirable. It’s mainly because gum can’t get its way out of your stomach the same way as other edibles. However, When you swallow a small piece of gum, it can safely move through your body in this way:

  1. After swallowing, the gum travels through your oesophagus to the small intestine.
  2. Your small intestine absorbs functional parts like sugars and nutrients.
  3. The parts of the gum that can’t be broken down move from the small intestine to the colon.
  4. Now, when you have a bowel movement, the gum leaves your body through the rectum.

Usually, gum passes through your system entirely in less than a week. But is it good for a child to swallow a gum?

Gum Swallowing Good or Bad for a Child

Children have a higher likelihood than adults of facing health issues from swallowing gum. If a child swallows excessive amounts of gum, especially when they’re already constipated, there’s a risk of an obstruction occurring in their intestines. 

Is It Acceptable for Children to Eat Gum?

Chewing gum in moderation is generally acceptable for children, but it’s essential to ensure they don’t swallow it, especially at a young age, to prevent any health hazards. Opt for sugar-free varieties to promote dental health!

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, swallowing gum is generally harmless as it smoothly moves through the system. Yet, if your belly feels unusual swelling, discomfort, or surprising pains after gulping gum down the hatch, it’s better to dial a doctor and get a professional’s help to ensure a happily-ever-after ending to this unexpected situation.

Want to know the History of Chewing Gum? Here.


[1] If you swallow gum, it will eventually come out of your stomach after approximately 40 days – https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-happens-when-you-swallow-gum

[2] A European study tells about artificial sweeteners present in gum – https://www.self.com/story/want-avoid-bad-ingredients-chewing-gum

[3] Chewing gum doesn’t get stuck in your stomach – https://www.mayoclinic.org/digestive-system/expert-answers/faq-20058446

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