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Edible "Toothbrush" Might Be the Only Option for Some

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Think of military men and women in combat. Firefighters who spend days at a time in the wilderness fighting forest fires. Disaster victims whose only source of water has been contaminated. Or the Red Cross workers assisting those victims. In these situations, people may not have access to potable water let alone a toothbrush and toothpaste.  

What about a quadriplegic confined to a wheelchair? A person with impaired muscle control? An amputee patient who just lost their arms? Everyday tasks that we take for granted become unmanageable for some. 

Dent Chew imageThe single-use, all-in-one edible toothbrush is not meant to replace regular brushing methods but is an alternative for people on-the-go and others. Developed by Dent-Chew Brush LLC, the Dent-Chew Brush, also known as Clean Bite, is shaped like a mouthpiece and is made of gelatin and other "food stuff". Former Army medic John Gallagher, Jr. came up with the idea after caring for amputee patients during the Vietnam War.  

Not yet on the market, Clean Bite contains bristles and xylitol for cleaning the teeth, gums, and tongue and can be formulated in different sizes and flavors. After chewing the "appliance" for 60 to 90 seconds, it begins to dissolve, and the user then either swallows it or throws it away.  

If the idea of swallowing the dissolved material sounds a little eccentric, don't worry, it's a certified food product, reports Gallagher and MedCity News. Using the dissolvable, biodegradable toothbrush is certainly a better option than not brushing at all. And, according to, because it contains a high concentration of collagen, it offers a double benefit - it contains 5 to 6 g of protein.

In the U.S., Clean Bite could be distributed to at-risk children who are less likely to maintain proper oral hygiene. Other markets include the military, travelers, hospitals, prisons, managed care facilities, organizations that provide disaster relief and even businesses like airlines. Wouldn't it be nice to brush your teeth on that cross-continental 24-hour flight?  

Internationally, this invention could benefit people across the globe who have limited access to traditional hygiene methods. In developing nations, reports, it can also serve as a delivery system for vitamins, therapeutics, medications, and potentially microencapsulated vaccines. 

So the next time you're stuck on an overnight flight, maybe you really can get rid of the fuzz on your teeth without leaving your seat, and gain some protein too!  


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