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A Breath of Fresh Air

Oral care support from vitamin action

By Sarah-Jane Godfrey, DSM Nutritional Products

Oral health is one of the top three concerns for companion animal owners. It is reported that approximately 70% of cats and 80% of dogs develop some form of periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old and that every dog or cat can be affected to some extent during its life. The increased awareness that oral health does not just affect the pet’s oral cavity but impacts upon its overall heath has meant that owners are seeking effective product solutions from the pet industry to help them maintain their companion’s oral health. Further, such measures, in order to be effective must be prolonged and in the form of daily care. Consequently the diet as the source of the support is a logical solution. Vitamin C has been shown to be a highly attractive ingredient, well-known by consumers. It is also known to be important for the maintenance of normal oral health. The patented ingredient STAY-C®

50, a highly specialised form of vitamin C from DSM Nutritional Products, is

clinically proven to provide nutritional support to oral health in cats and dogs and is an ingredient that is attractive to pet owners, offering pet food producers multiple points of differentiation for their products.

Oral disease an on-going concern During the last century, there has been a world-wide surge of interest in veterinary dentistry. Interstitial gingivitis or so-called pyorrhoea alveolaris” was reported in dogs as far back as 1899. In 1939 the prevalence of dental disease and requirement for surgical intervention in dogs was also reported. Dental disease is certainly not a new “modern” problem in our dogs or our cats. Infection and inflammation of the gums and supporting tissues of

the teeth, seen in periodontal disease, are caused by plaque, a sticky surface deposit comprised of bacteria, sugar and food residue and the formation of calculus or tartar, which is mineralised plaque. The problem starts when yellowish brown plaque and calculus are allowed to build up on an animal’s teeth. In the absence of regular cleaning, it is within a few days that plaque attracts calcium salts and becomes mineralised. As plaque matures, gingivitis develops into periodontitis characterized by increased mobility of teeth, concurrent gingivitis and sub-gingival calculus. Untreated this can result in bad breath (halitosis), bleeding and inflammation of the gums, receding gums and the eventual loss of teeth. Halitosis due to periodontal disease is caused by plaque bacteria, which are attracted to the tooth surface within eight hours after teeth cleaning. Without adequate oral care the bacteria change from somewhat irritating strains to bone destroying types that produce hydrogen sulphide causing halitosis and pain. Such bacterial loads


and the damage to the integrity of the surface tissue can lead to the development of more extensive disease conditions. A pet’s diet generally is considered to be a major factor in the

development of plaque and tartar. Clinical evidence suggests that soft or sticky foods propagate plaque formation while the abrasive action and increased salivary flow from mechanical devices, such as dog chews, or large, fibrous foods are considered beneficial.

Increased awareness of the importance of regular oral care If unchecked, development of periodontal disease does not just impact the health of the oral cavity but can also affect the animal’s systemic health. Bacteria causing the infection in the mouth can migrate into the lymphatic system and blood vessels. In healthy animals the transient bacteraemia can be cleared effectively by the immune system, however, if not removed they may colonise other areas of the body impairing immune and organ function. Periodontal disease has been linked to conditions of the heart valves and pulmonary airways and changes in the kidneys, myocardium and liver. In people it has been linked to arthritis, low birth weight, heart disease, stress, anxiety, obesity and stroke. The importance of dental care for companion animals means that

dentistry is an integral part of the veterinarian training curricula with many now specialising and offering complete dental care services for

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