[F]irst and foremost, the peppermint-flavored gum, called Combat Gum, is aimed at keeping troops healthy and their mouths happy in combat and field-training situations.
“Oral health is essential to warriors on the battlefield and could potentially save the military countless hours and dollars in dental health,” said Col. Robert Hale, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and commander of the Army Institute of Surgical Research, in the Army Times report.
The gum doesn’t replace brushing or flossing, Col. Hale said. But it fights plaque and periodontal disease, and it’s currently being distributed to high-risk troops and those heading to the field with the instructions to chew for 20 minutes after each main meal. The aim is to make the gum available to all troops in the Army and eventually on an over-the-counter basis, Col. Hale said.
The gum currently costs about $2 a piece, but it’s ultimately expected to save the military millions of dollars in dental care over the years, the Army Times said. It was developed primarily by Kai Leung, a microbiologist for the dental and trauma research detachment, after he studied bacteria colonies akin to those that multiply in the mouth.