The latest scientific breakthrough is a chewing gum that fights plaque to keep teeth and gums healthy. It was developed specifically for the military and is not supposed to replace the good old fashioned toothbrush and toothpaste. However, there is talk of using this new fortified gum to improve the dental health of children in living in impoverished countries.

My children are living quite comfortably here in the states, but I’m thinking "Chew your gum!" will go over much better than "Brush your teeth!" This new miracle of modern medicine could be to tooth brushing what Velcro has become to shoe tying. Let the chewing begin!

The Military Gum Project

The new gum is infused with an antimicrobial, known as KSL, which is an anti-adhesive and abrasive agent that helps dissolve plaque and prevent it from adhering to teeth. This plaque removal and prevention is the cornerstone of dental health.

Why a military project? As reported in the Lexington-Herald Ledger:

Since World War I, thousands of American soldiers have suffered from the extreme form of gingivitis that can result in painful ulcers, infection and bleeding gums. You've probably heard it called "trench mouth." Even today, about 15 percent of all Army sick calls are related to dental problems, said Thompson, who's both a colonel and a dentist.

 

Not only do poor teeth take active soldiers out of duty, but getting treatment can put others in harms way. For every soldiers who must be transported to a dentist in Iraq , Thompson said, seven others must ride in a convoy over often treacherous roads.

And why can’t soldiers brush their teeth on the front lines? Soldiers reported that a single white spot left by rinsing toothpaste is dangerous because the enemy can track them after they’ve moved on to another location. And given the choice to pack an extra bullet or a toothbrush, the wise soldier will go for the ammo.

Clearly, it’s a good thing for the troops. What about our kids?

Plaque Fighting Toothpaste for Civilian Use

Once clinical trials are complete, the plaque fighting gum may be available for children in poor countries or even commercially available here for use by hikers, the report said. It was stressed that the gum is not designed to permanently replace a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Why not?

If it works and it’s easier why not use it all the time? Or is this going to be just one more thing we’ve got to do in addition? Will we soon be flossing, brushing, whitening, fluoride treating, and then — and only then — chewing our plaque fighting gum?

I’d like to know your thoughts.