In the war to maintain the health of your teeth and gums, plaque remains enemy number one. A sticky biofilm comprised of bacteria and lingering food particles, plaque thrives on the sugars you eat to produce harmful substances that wear down your teeth’s tough outer defenses, the hard tissue known as enamel. In fact, the reason Eugene kids dentist Dr. Kirchmeier and the North Eugene Family Dental team recommends that all of our patients brush and floss daily is to help remove plaque from the surface of their teeth so no damage occurs to their oral health from eating.
Tough On Plaque
Walk down the oral care isle of your local grocery store, and you’ll see a variety of products advertised as tough on plaque. Mouthwashes, specialty toothpaste and electric toothbrushes with oscillating heads are just some of the many types of products you’ll see that can help eliminate plaque build up from your teeth and gums. If the United States Army has its way, the next time you go shopping you might start seeing one more type of product that will help eliminate plaque: chewing gum.
Made by the U.S. Army
Developed by the Dental & Trauma Research Detachment’s combat dentistry program, the new antiplaque chewing gum has been shown to dramatically reduce plaque build up in soldiers and help lower their risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
The U.S. Army’s combat dentistry program was formed to help prevent and treat what the military designates as Dental-Disease Not Battle Injury (D-DNBI), which represents a significant loss of a deployed units effectiveness and combat readiness while in the field, according to the U.S. Army’s Institute of Surgical Research.
The detachment’s research in the field of combat dentistry has focused in recent years on improving medical understanding of biofilms like plaque, the causes of periodontal disease development, treatment of the disease and how an individual’s own genes may affect their risk of periodontal disease.
Helping to Improve Oral Health
Studies conducted by the army have shown that most soldiers suffer from a decline in their oral health when stationed out in the field. The DTRD’s role is to evaluate the risk associated with dental disease to each soldier, the best practices to treat a solider should a dental emergency arise when stationed and what standards of dental fitness should a soldier be held prior deployment into the field.
As one possible solution on to improve the oral health of enlisted men and women while in the field, the DTRD has developed an anti-plaque chewing gum that, when used, released a water-soluble peptide that kills oral bacteria and prevents the formation of plaque. Early testing of the gum has it effective in both in vivo and in vitro.
The chemical used in the gum naturally occurs in the body and has been shown to destroy bacteria in the mouth much like a detergent. The chemical only attacks bacteria that present a risk of the body’s health, say researchers, allowing the gum to leave health bacteria in the mouth alone.
While encouraged by early results, researchers say the gum will enter a trail period, and, if successful, will be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for approval. Researchers expect that if approved, the antiplaque gum will start off as a prescription only product, much in the same way nicotine gum was sold before being available over-the-counter.
If you have questions about plaque or need any dental related advice, please contact North Eugene Family Dental for an appointment today!