What Happens If You Swallow Gum? A Doctor Answers

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Let's be honest — who hasn't swallowed gum accidentally and wondered and worried about what could happen? 

Well, how bad is it really? We asked physician Dr. Ian Smith.

"When you chew food, inside of your mouth, you have enzymes that start to break your food down into small pieces," he explains. "Then it gets into your stomach, [which] is full of all this great, strong acid that will break it down into mush. And then it goes into your intestinal tract — you digest, you eliminate."

But gum is a different story. 

"The enzymes in your mouth don't work on gum," the doc says. "So you swallow the gum intact and it goes through your system intact. And you end up eliminating it intact."

"If you do it every once in a while, it's not going to be a problem," he continues. "You're going to eliminate it."

BUT that doesn't mean you can start purposely gulping it down!

In fact, the main concern is with kids, the doc says. "Kids do too much of it, and their gastric motility slows down," Dr. Ian explains. "And they get constipated [and] could possibly have a blockage." 

So, moral of the story? If it happens accidentally every once in a while, Dr. Ian isn't concerned. "But you shouldn't do it very frequently," he says.

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