New gum could help prevent tooth decay in soldiers - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

New gum could help prevent tooth decay in soldiers

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Researchers created a gum that could revolutionize the dental industry and could also help our soldiers by solving a very costly problem in war zones.

We're taking you inside the US Army Institute of Surgical Research where scientists spent seven years developing the tiniest solution for something that's, well been a big toothache for the military.

"Quite honestly, we can't drill our way out of this problem,” Col. Robert Hale said.

Colonel Hale says, in the army alone, about 40 percent of recruits enter the service with more than three cavities.

Any necessary dental work is done before troops deploy, but if a problem crops up in heavy combat that service member must be pulled from duty and taken miles away to the nearest dentist.

"They don't want to be evacuated. They want to be next to their buddy in a combat zone, helping out,” Hale said.

Experts in the lab found something that might prevent those emergency evacuations; an ingredient that kills bacteria.

Your body already produces the ingredient to fight dental plaque.

"We've taken it from the laboratory and we've placed it in a gum,” Hale said.

Colonel hale calls it "combat gum."

A ball of gum packed with the active ingredient that gets rid of plaque.

"As they chew, it's released in the mouth and it kills bacteria. Three times a day, after meals,” he said.

The gum is in clinical trials right now and if it helps combat troops, eventually the rest of us could buy combat gum as easily as ordinary chewing gum.

"That's what he hope. So when it's over-the-counter, then all the moms can buy it for the kids and they can chew on it when they're 8-years-old, 10-years-old, 12-years-old,” Hale said.

So when those kids grow up it can be a healthier population and a healthier generation of service members raised on combat gum.

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