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companion animals worldwide. Routine veterinary oral examinations are an important part of care for all pets. In addition, regular home care is necessary to help support oral health of companion animals. It is generally accepted that the most efficient oral home care method for dog and cat owners to remove plaque from their pet’s teeth is by regular brushing with a toothbrush using appropriate pet toothpaste. This is not however a procedure that many companion animal owners can carry out effectively or even comply with. In a DSM pet owner survey only 16% of dog owners cleaned their pet’s teeth every day, driving the need for pet products that provide a more complete approach to oral care.

Products for Maintaining Oral Health The pet industry has recognised its role in continuing to provide solutions that contribute positively to oral hygiene and a variety of products are available. Sometimes the fact that the product is dry and extruded is the basis of the oral health claim benefit, but their effectiveness to provide mechanical cleaning of the tooth can vary. Other products available include chews, which like some dry foods provide enough abrasive cleaning action to help remove plaque accumulation. Owners are also confronted by a number of products containing functional ingredients to further improve oral health. The three principal modes of action commonly implemented in oral care products for companion animals are: ingredients that reduce the growth of bacteria in the oral cavity; ingredients that are said to limit the formation of calculus, which leads to the development of periodontal disease; and ingredients that supplement the mechanical benefit.


•    

•   

•   

•   

destructive reactive oxygen species (ROS), for example, superoxide, via the respiratory burst, during the processes to destroy the pathogen. Although ROS have important roles to play within the body, these free radicals also detrimentally affect the tissues as they damage DNA, cause lipid peroxidation, protein damage, oxidation of enzymes and cause stimulation of pro-inflammatory cytokine release by monocytes and macrophages. Periodontitis has been described to be similar to other inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, in which ROS are implicated to induce tissue damage. Biological fluids such as the saliva and gingival crevicular fluid, found in the gingival crevice, contain antioxidants which could be important in terms of protecting oral tissues from the negative effects of ROS. In dogs, it has been reported that those with gingivitis and minimal periodontitis had significantly higher total antioxidant capacity in the gingival crevicular fluid than dogs with advanced periodontitis. The role of vitamin C and its importance in oral health remains

For years, many human dental products have included vitamin C as

part of their formulation because of the proven benefit associated with oral care parameters. The special form of vitamin C, STAY-C®

50 is added

to toothpaste, mouthwash and teeth whitening products. Consumer awareness of health benefits surrounding vitamin C is very high.

Micronutrients and Support of Oral Health The development of dental disease has been linked to oxidative stress and a defect in the total antioxidant activity of saliva. The inflammation associated with periodontal disease is a direct result of the actions of bacteria and their by-products on the tissues and the indirect actions of the animal’s immune system. In response to periodontal pathogens, polymorphonuclear cells (PMNs or neutrophils) release

unchallenged. Vitamin C is needed in the body for formation of collagen. This confirms its importance to the maintenance of oral health, supporting gum structure and the integrity of tooth placement. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant in the body and also supports the immune system, subsequently supporting phagocytic leukocyte function. Vitamin C is also needed for regeneration of vitamin E, another important antioxidant. Vitamin E (tocopherols) is a fat soluble antioxidant that protects polyunsaturated fats in cell membranes from oxidation by lipid peroxyl radicals. Other nutrients that will influence antioxidant status are selenium, zinc, copper and manganese, all required for the function of the enzymatic antioxidant system. It is therefore important that when considering supplementation of foods a complete cocktail of antioxidant nutrients are provided to ensure adequate antioxidant protection at all times. Deficiencies of vitamins A, B, and D have also been linked to periodontal disease. B complex vitamin (including folic acid, niacin,


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