Does Chewing Gum Help Prevent Heartburn?

Despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with your heart and is actually a symptom of many conditions, such as acid reflux. According to the Mayo Clinic, heartburn feels like a burning sensation in your chest or behind the breastbone. Typically, heartburn occurs from having a large meal or eating spicy foods, but there are times when heartburn can signal a more serious underlying condition. In addition to the burning sensation you may feel, heartburn symptoms also include a bitter or sour taste in the mouth or worsening pain when lying down or bending over.

Heartburn is triggered by your eating habits and lifestyle. In order to understand how heartburn begins, it's helpful to know how acid reflux occurs. According to the Cleveland Clinic, at the bottom of your esophagus is a valve known as the esophageal sphincter, which opens and closes when you eat. In certain instances, like eating right before bed, the valve doesn't close properly and stomach acid leaks through your esophagus. During this process, you may feel a burning sensation in your chest, or heartburn.

Prevention and treatment for heartburn

While you can't fully avoid heartburn, chewing gum may help prevent it from occurring. Blacker Family Dental reports chewing sugar-free gum can help reduce heartburn and nausea, especially when they're flavored — mint or ginger can relieve an upset stomach. This is because gum lowers how much stomach acid reaches your esophagus. According to Palmyra Surgical, chewing gum allows our body to produce more saliva, which essentially washes stomach acid out of the mouth and esophagus, pushing it back toward the stomach. Chewing gum isn't for everyone, though, particularly those with braces or if you experience jaw pain, so you'll want to keep that in mind if you have either.

Heartburn is usually treated with over-the-counter medications and by making lifestyle changes. WebMD reports antacids ease pain from heartburn by reducing the amount of acid in your stomach. Antacids may interfere with specific medications, so be sure to check with your doctor before trying anything new. Additionally, you can prevent heartburn by getting enough sleep, sleeping with your head elevated, not smoking, and wearing loose clothes.