What Happens if you swallow chewing gum by mistake?

It is an age old urban myth designed to terrify the youth. Swallowing a part of a chewing gum will result in it being stuck inside your body for seven years before it can be digested and dislodged from the body. This is however just a myth. Another related myth, which is equally if not more terrifying or appalling, is the theory that if you swallow a piece of chewing gum it will wrap itself around your heart. That is one intelligent killing machine if you ask me. All the chewing gums are made from a gum base, topped off with flavoring, coloring, and sweeteners to cater to all taste buds. The piece of chewing gum is pretty much indigestible since it is a mixture of waxes, resins, fats, emulsifiers, and elastomers.[irp]

Most the time, our stomach cannot break down the chewing gum like it does with all the other food that we consume. One must understand that even some of the foods that we eat regularly are not properly digested by our stomach and hence the digestive system has a way of dealing with such foods. The digestive system keeps on moving the indigestible food particles along your digestive system or path of the digestive system until it reaches the intestines. The intestines then remove the food particles from your body whenever you go to the toilet.

Hence it seems that instead of taking up residence in my gut or being wrapped around my heart was not on the menu, to begin with, and instead of residing inside us for 7 years, a piece of gum will usually leave your body after 2 days max. Even though gum is a very sticky substance, the stickiness of the gum is no match in comparison to the power of your digestive system. As soon as we put the piece of chewing gum in your mouth, the saliva in our mouth will try its best to digest or break down the piece of chewing gum. The saliva will probably be successful in penetrating the shell of the chewing gum as well as the sweeteners; however, the ingredients of the base of the gum are mostly indigestible.

The partially broken down piece is then sent to the stomach muscles which relax and contract slowly, like the way an earthworm moves (if you have ever seen one). The stomach muscles do this to force the food particles that we have swallowed to travel through our system with ease.[irp]

The digestive system can, however, get gummed up in extreme cases. Those people who swallow huge pieces of gum or several small pieces of gum in a short period may cause the gum to cause a blockage in the digestive system of the individual. This is, however, most common in children who have smaller and developing digestive tracts in comparison to the adults.