What Happens If Children Swallow Gum When They Chew It?

The choking hazards most candies present to babies and tiny toddlers are undoubtedly well-known to parents. Things that are hard, sticky, chewy, gummy, or shaped so that they can easily get lodged in a child’s throat are generally discouraged.

Your little one has discovered gumball machines and the Juicy Fruit you keep stashed in your tote bag, and you wonder: How long can I hold out? Here, experts share when and how to let kids chew safely – and put an end to those old wives’ tales.

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When Is A Child Safe?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should wait until they are five years old before being introduced to gum. In this age group, children can chew well, understand spitting, and know not to swallow gum.

A child should avoid gumballs until they are older because of their size and shape. Dr. Denise Scott, a pediatrician, recommends introducing a half-stick first. She advises children to chew it and spit it out later.

Kids Chewing Gum: Pros And Cons

Chewing reduces cavities by clearing out the grooves on the back teeth. Sugarless gum can prevent tooth decay when chewed after eating for 20 minutes. Ashley Lerman, the founder of Firstgrin Dental, says it’s because the chewing mechanics help to dislodge and loosen the food chewed into the back molars. Gum chewing hasn’t been shown to damage teeth unless your teeth aren’t aligned properly, which can make them wear down, so talk to your child’s dentist before giving him gum.

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Is Swallowing Gum Dangerous For Your Child?

Gum will typically digest, but it may take longer. Most parents fear this, but it usually isn’t a cause for concern. Scott said, “Swallowing gum is not problematic unless a very large amount is swallowed over a short period, which could lead to a blockage.” Despite folklore, gum does not stay in the digestive tract for seven years. It passes through the digestive tract and is removed through stools.