War is hell, and trying to fight one with a toothache is even worse, which brings us to ... Combat Gum. This is a real product being developed by the Army—gum that soldiers in the field can chew to kill disease-carrying bacteria and ward off expensive dental problems, reports the New Yorker. It has the plaque-fighting benefits of regular sugar-free gum, only more so, thanks to a military formula that makes use of "anti-microbial peptides." Think Army Strong Trident. The first phase of human trials is complete, and another year of testing will take place before Combat Gum gets distributed to the troops, but "everything is going well," says one researcher.
Soldiers would be asked to chew the gum for 20 minutes after each meal, though it's not meant to replace brushing or flossing, USA Today notes in an earlier story. The Pentagon is dead serious about the project given that it could save an estimated $100 million per year on dental services. Eventually, the gum is expected to be sold to civilians over the counter, like nicotine gum. The Army's chief dental expert loves that idea, if for self-serving reasons: “If we can develop an anti-plaque chewing gum and offer it to a company like, I don’t know, Wrigley’s, and distribute that to the general population, then those kids will come and join the Armed Forces with less dental decay issues." (Read more Pentagon stories.)