The Potentially Harmful Ingredients in Sugar-Free Gum

Chewing gum may seem like a harmless habit. After all, what damage could that tiny, minty strip of freshness possibly do, right?

Unfortunately, gum is quite threatening in a number of ways. The repetitive motion of chewing has been linked to headaches and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), and several common ingredients in chewing gum are even linked to cancer. Furthermore, the lack of awareness is compounded by the common misconception that sugar-free gum is a smart alternative, despite the fact that this perceived “healthier” option introduces yet another wave of potentially harmful ingredients, such as:


The main ingredient in Equal, Aspartame has been linked to an astounding 92 different side effects ranging from dizziness and fatigue to oral sensory issues. While the American Cancer Society says that this sweetener is safe “for most people,” others with an amino acid defect called phenylketonuria are at risk of brain damage from the chemical phenylalanine found in aspartame. Alternative medicine expert Dr. Joseph Mercola adds that aspartame is metabolized into formaldehyde, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists as a probable human carcinogen.

Acesuflame Potassium

Acesuflame Potassium, also known as Ace-K, is 200 times sweeter than sugar. It hasn’t yet seen a definitive verdict on a possible link to cancer, but the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) suggests that Ace-K’s original tests in the 1970s were brief and flawed. So basically, as of right now, it may cause cancer or it may not.

“My assessment? It’s not yet certain that there are no health risks associated with Ace-K,” says Duke University professor Bill Chameides.


At 320 to 1,000 times sweeter than sugar, sucralose appears to be the ideal artificial sweetener. The problem with this major Splenda ingredient, Chameides says, is that its chemical makeup is very similar to sugar, except with chlorine atoms in place of hydroxyl. While sucralose doesn’t appear to have any link to cancer, Dr. Mercola challenges its FDA approval, which was based off of only two short studies. He bases his stance on the fact that animal studies involving sucralose showed a decrease in red blood cells, which in humans is linked anemia, male infertility, enlarged kidneys and more.


Oral health is the key to overall health, and “cooked up” concoctions like those mentioned above can be equally if not more harmful to your teeth than plain old sugar. Just like candy bars are synonymous with cavities, you should associate artificial sweeteners with dental erosion. Pair that with the overall dangers of chewing any type of gum and you’ve got yourself a recipe for diminished physical health down the road.

For more information on how to take better care of your oral health, visit Dr. Lawrence Singer of DC Smiles.