Maybe You Really Can Chew Your Way To Cleaner Teeth

A new product from Purdue University's Fort Wayne (Ind.) campus could take a big bite out of the $3 billion North American chewing gum market. Purdue researcher Carl Kleber has developed a chewing gum that he says can remove plaque and polish teeth at the same time. The secret: an ingredient called calcined kaolin, a purified clay that is treated at a high temperature. Since the early 1980s, Kleber has experimented with different sizes of kaolin to find the right combination to clean and polish without harming tooth enamel.

The gum, which looks and tastes like regular chewing gum, can be formulated with different flavors--even bubble gum. Several major U.S. oral-care companies are holding clinical tests of the gum, says Stanley Becker, vice-president at San Diego-based Premedent Technology Inc., a technology-transfer company that is working with Purdue to commercialize the product. Becker, who says the gum is intended to be a supplement rather than a substitute for brushing, expects to line up a deal within the next six months.

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