piece of chewing gum in wrapperNapoleon Bonaparte famously said that an army marches on its stomach. If that’s true, then the army stands on its teeth, and if soldiers are unable to get to the dentist, the army is in danger of falling. Battlefield challenges, though, make it hard for soldiers to get to a dentist, and even maintaining good oral hygiene when under fire can be a challenge.

The US Army has experienced the cost of not getting proper dental care for their soldiers. Transportation and treatment costs add up to tens of millions of dollars a year, and dental emergencies account for 10% of all non-combat injuries requiring evacuation from the battlefield.

Developing a Gum That Fights Plaque

We all know that chewing sugar-free gum can help fight cavities. It stimulates saliva production, can remove food particles and plaque the way a clay bar takes dirt off a car, and the sugar substitute xylitol has antibacterial properties. The Army already has some in its MREs (meals ready to eat), but they are working on the next generation of combat gum, one that has stronger anti-plaque properties.

The gum is being developed with code name KSL-W, which acts in a way similar to your body’s natural defense, contained in saliva. The gum has performed well in early clinical trials. Relatively few subjects have used the gum, however, and it hasn’t yet been compared to placebo or sugar-free gum containing xylitol.

An Aid for Your Dentist

As with many military-first technologies, there is expected to be a significant peace dividend to this technology. Many private companies are trying to get this gum developed for civilian use.

It’s not expected that this gum will take the place of brushing, flossing, or a professional cleaning from the dentist, but it could help reduce and prevent gum disease. We’ll see how effectively this gum performs in tests and trials.

If you’re overdue for your next dentist appointment, Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics can help. Please call 509-581-4188 for an appointment at our Spokane office or 509-927-2273 for an appointment at our Spokane Valley office.