NEPEAN, ONTARIO- There’s a new weapon in the battle against tooth decay- and it’s minty fresh. The United States Army has unveiled its newest creation: “combat gum.”

After seven years of development, the Army is confident its specially formulated, anti-cavity gum will improve the dental health of soldiers stationed in regions where running water is scarce. Such environments make implementing a proper oral hygiene routine a challenge.

The United States spends more than $100 billion on dental services each year. That’s according to the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, which recognized the need for an on-the-go way to keep troops’ teeth and gums healthy. They hope their peppermint-flavored gum, designed to be chewed 20 minutes after meals, will save millions in military dental care expenses and boost the overall health of servicemen and women.

The military says dental emergencies are to blame for more than 10 percent of disease-related soldier evacuations.

So, what makes this gum so special? Combat gum contains an anti-microbial peptide that battles plaque, cavities and gum disease. Chewing gum also stimulates saliva production, which is essential to fighting dry mouth, rinsing away plaque and mineralizing the tooth’s protective enamel layer.

Clinical trials for combat gum start this month. If successful, the gum will be given to soldiers who are considered “high risk,” meaning they have three or more cavities or decaying teeth. Developers of combat gum hope it will, eventually, be available for over the counter purchase at a rate of $2 a piece.

Meanwhile, you don’t have to be in the U.S. Army to partake in the dental health benefits of gum. Keeping a few sticks of gum on hand is a great way to freshen up your breath and dental health after meals. Chewing any sort of gum produces saliva, but make sure you choose a sugar-free variety. Bathing teeth in sugar will increase your risk of decay.

Combat gum, or any gum, is not a replacement for proper brushing and flossing. Nothing beats an adequate oral hygiene routine. Stick with your toothbrush and save the gum for those on-the-go moments. Be sure to implement regular professional dental care, too.

When was the last time you had your teeth professionally cleaned and examined? If it’s been more than six months, contact us at Trillium Dental. Our Nepean area dentists provide helpful dental hygiene tips and care to ensure you leave with a truly healthy smile.

Trillium Dental is a trusted provider of comprehensive dental solutions, like Invisalign, restorations, dental implants and cosmetic dentistry in the Nepean area. Contact our friendly staff  to learn more.