keeping your dog's teeth clean
You need to keep your dog’s teeth to healthy, but do you know why?
 
Dental disease is the most common medical problem in dogs. Your dog’s dental health can actually affect his whole body … 
 
… but your vet may not be making the connection between your dog’s teeth and other health issues.
 
Oral and dental health are vital in promoting preventa­tive health and wellness. A proactive approach can keep your dog thriving better throughout his lifetime.
 
So where do you start?
 
Diet and the right supplements can make a big difference in keeping your dog’s teeth (and his whole body) healthy.

Dental Health With Diet And Nutrition

Diet and nutrition choices are paramount to overall health, including dental health.
 
Although it’s a common myth that kibble is good for dental health, this is just a myth. In fact, most kibble is too small to do any good. There’s just not enough chewing going on. Feeding kibble doesn’t promote cleaner teeth at the gum line, where it really matters.
 
This myth comes from the belief that tartar is the best indicator of oral disease. However, it’s now known that gingivitis is a more accurate indicator for the level of oral infection.
 
But it’s not just about “not” cleaning the teeth…
 
… kibble is also heavily pro­cessed using high heat and pressure. This create AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products) and HCAs (Heterocyclic Amines) which are pro-in­flammatory and even carcinogenic. As a result, dry kibble and other heavily processed foods actually fuel inflammation and disease in the body. This includes the mouth and oral tissues.
 
So, it should come as no surprise that kibble’s not on the oral health care list, so what is?

1. Raw Meaty Bones

Many believe that a raw food diet contains natural enzymes that help resist bacterial plaque. Many veterinarians and pet owners have seen healthier teeth and gums in dogs eating raw food diets and raw meaty bones.
 
Raw meaty bones provide an active chewing and gum cleaning advantage. In contrast, cooked bones are more brittle and can splinter when chewed. That’s why cooked bones come with the risk of damage to the tissues in the intestinal tract. Another concern about dogs chewing bones is the risk of damaged or broken teeth. Veterinary dentists report that large types of raw bones, such as marrowbones, rarely cause broken teeth. This is in contrast to small and thin long bones and similar shaped objects which are common culprits in damaging teeth.
 
This has to do dog jaw anatomy and how your dog chews his bones.
 
Larger, bulky objects aren’t chewed with the same angle and force on the large teeth at the back of the cheek and mouth compared to smaller and longer objects. In fact, common items known to break dogs’ teeth are nylon bones, cooked bones, antlers, hooves and bully sticks.
[Related: So, long bones or flat bones? Find more about our favorite types of bones here]

2. Antioxidants

Recent studies have linked chronic oxidative stress with periodontal disease. Oxidative stress is free-radical damage to the body’s cells and tissues. In fact, a proper balance between free radicals and antioxidants is crucial for healthy periodontal tissues. This means antioxidants play an important role in your dog’s dental health.
Here are a few of the nutritional products that can increase antioxidant capacity.
  • Nrf2 is a messenger protein that triggers a natural pathway in the body to stimulate antioxidant production. These antioxidants are very powerful enzymes such as glutathione, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase. They’re highly protective against free radicals and in reduc­ing oxidative stress.
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Low levels of the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) have been linked to periodontal disease in humans, and beneficial effects on periodontal health have been reported after supple­mentation of CoQ10 in the diet and with topical application onto the gumsMany holistic veterinar­ians recommend 1mg of CoQ10 per pound of body weight daily, which is much higher than the typical recommended dose of 15 to 30 mg per dog per dayFolic acid is another nutrient studied for its effects on oral health, such as preserving gum tissue and reducing the incidence of gingivitis and periodontitis. Organ meats contain folate and CoQ10, and CoQ10 is also in fatty fish.

3. Fatty Acids

keeping your dog's teeth cleanFatty acid supplements can also help manage periodontal inflam­mation. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for the joints, but they’re beneficial for supporting oral health and periodontal tissues, as well as heart, kidney and brain health too.
 
A unique fatty acid called 1-Tetradecanol complex inhibits inflammation of the gingival tissue. Apply it directly onto the gums. It protects the gum tissue against inflammation and minimizes the progression of peri­odontal disease. Elite Science’s 1-TDC product is generally quite palatable for dogs.

4. Probiotics

Probiotics are gaining a lot of recognition for both gut health and immune system function. Your dog’s teeth and mouth are, of course, the initial sections of the gastro­intestinal tract. The body’s microbiome plays a critical role in immune system function and in chronic inflammation.
 
Probiotics provide oral health benefits when you give them orally or apply them directly onto the gums. Applying probiotics onto the gums allows these beneficial bacteria to form colonies to create a healthier biofilm in the mouth. These helpful bacteria then kick out the harmful bacteria that are responsible for causing the inflammation that leads to periodontal disease. Giving a daily oral dose of probiotics and rubbing some on the gums can help improve oral health. Use a gel or liquid or a powdered probiotic (you can also empty out capsules) and rub it on the gums.
[Related: Are probiotics enough on their own, or do you need prebiotics too? Find out here]

5. Biodent

Standard Process Biodent (available through your veterinarian) con­tains a combination of cold-pressed ground bone, minerals, adrenal gland and other organ meats to support strong and healthy teeth, jawbone, connective tissues and immune system function. Connec­tive tissues in the mouth include the periodontal ligament, which plays the important role of attaching the teeth to the jawbone.

keeping your dog's teeth clean

Active Plaque Removal (AKA Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth)

Nutritional support is great, but you also have to do a little maintenance. The best approach to plaque removal is with regular tooth brushing at home. Brushing your dog’s teeth daily may seem like a daunting task, but regular dental hygiene provides an enormous health benefit for your dog. This is especially true for small breed dogs, who are more prone to significant levels of dental disease.
 
The product used on the toothbrush is actually not as important as the action of wiping away the plaque biofilm.
 
That said, coconut oil with a drop or two of properly diluted essential oils applied onto the gums or used on a toothbrush can be really good. Coconut oil not only tastes good, but it’s rich in medium chain fatty acids (MCTs) and lauric acid, giving it antimicrobial properties. It’s also been shown to help draw out toxins when used on the gums. Many essential oils (EOs) are antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, pain relieving or beneficial for oral tissues and mucous membranes. These include clove, lemon, peppermint, orange, basil, myrrh and copaiba. Use caution in choosing your essential oil supplier, buying only pure therapeutic oils.
 
There are also several essential oil-based oral sprays and rinses on the market specifically for dogs. Dog Breath from AnimalEO is a good blend containing coconut oil, copaiba, peppermint, helichrysum and myrrh.
 
In summary, paying attention to the health of your dog’s teeth and mouth is a vital component in overall health and wellness for your dog. Regular oral hygiene or brushing is helpful, but you can also make a tremendous impact by feeding a raw diet options and giving some key nutrients and supplements that benefit oral health. The efforts you make to support healthy teeth and gums for your dog will ultimately improve his quality of life, vitality and resilience to disease.