“Combat Gum” Introduced to Battle Tooth Decay in Soldiers

SAN FRANCISCO- There’s a new, minty fresh weapon in the war against tooth decay. After seven years of development, military researchers present “combat gum.”

The peppermint-flavored, anti-cavity gum is designed for soldiers stationed in regions with limited access to fresh water. By chewing the gum for 20 minutes three times each day, soldiers can flush away plaque, reduce their risk of tooth decay and give their overall dental health a boost.

The United States Army Institute of Surgical Research estimates more than $100 billion is spent on dental care in the U.S. each year. Military officials hope their latest creation will reduce the occurrence of decay, keep soldiers healthy and slash Army dental bills.

Combat gum is not a suitable replacement for a proper oral hygiene routine, but the gum’s saliva-stimulating action fortifies the enamel and helps protect against cavities in environments where soldiers can’t easily brush and floss. An added anti-microbial peptide provides extra enamel support and periodontal benefits.

Clinical trials on combat gum start this month. The military will provide the gum to “high-risk” soldiers with three or more cavities. That accounts for 15 percent of the force.

So, how can a mere stick of gum fight tooth decay, gum disease and a host of other dental conditions? Never underestimate the power of spit.

“Chewing gum produces saliva, and saliva benefits dental health in two chief ways: it washes away irritants like food debris and plaque, and it facilitates the remineralization process,” says Dr. Robert Walley, a provider of comprehensive dentistry in San Francisco.

Remineralization occurs when teeth (namely the enamel) are fortified by the compounds found in saliva. The stronger your enamel, the less likely you are to experience tooth decay, which is considered an infectious disease.

Dental health suffers when there’s not enough saliva in the mouth. When saliva levels are low due to dehydration, medicinal side effects or illness, it is known as dry mouth. This condition creates the ideal oral environment for bacteria to spawn, decay to form and bad breath to develop.

The average civilian can’t purchase combat gum just yet, but regular sugar-free gum will still trigger saliva production and supply the mentioned dental health perks. To keep your mouth moist, clean and healthy, we at Robert M. Walley, D.D.S. recommend patients stay hydrated, keep a few sticks of sugar-free gum on hand for after meals and continue a good routine of at-home and professional dental care.

To learn more, contact our San Francisco office today.