Biodegradable Chewing Gum Kills Bacteria, Removes and Prevents Plaque

plaque Fresno, CA

Emily Siegel, a University of Pittsburgh senior majoring in chemical engineering and biological sciences, invented a biodegradable chewing gum that kills bacteria and removes and prevents plaque. The gum, called Trek, was developed for an assignment in a product design class that challenged students to think of a problem and come up with a product to solve it.

The memory of multiple late nights when she was too tired to even brush her teeth sparked Siegel's idea.Trek took the top prize in the most recent Big Idea Blitz, a 24-hour event in which student innovators recruit fellow students to their teams and work with Innovation Institute entrepreneurs-in-residence to develop their ideas, understand the market need and hone their pitches. Siegel's winning pitch cited a study by Delta Dental that found the 37% of adults aged 18 to 24 had gone two or more days without brushing their teeth.

Not only does Trek remove and prevent plaque, it's also better for the environment because it creates no plastic waste, unlike disposable single-use toothbrushes and is 100% biodegradable. Siegel envisions that this product not only will benefit busy millennials, but also will appeal to travelers, members of the military and people in places where clean water is difficult to come by. Trek's prize money is going toward further development of this idea around which Siegel intends to create a company and an entrepreneurial career.

Read more about Trek and the Big Idea Blitz at pittwire.pitt.edu/news/those-too-tired-brush.

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