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Oral homecare regimens and products

02 November 2015
15 mins read
Volume 6 · Issue 9


The maintenance of the oral health of veterinary patients is fundamental to the maintenance of their overall health. Oral ill-health and untreated diseases are considered to contribute significantly to, or exacerbate, many other systemic illnesses that animal patients suffer, often due to a transient bacteraemia originating within the oral cavity, and these diseases can be painful. Anecdotally, many clients return with their animal post-dental treatment and report that they are like a puppy or a kitten again. This is simply because having cleaned away the plaque bacteria from the sulcus during the dental procedure, the animal does not then suffer this influx of bacteria from the sulcus through the breached epithelium and into the bloodstream every time it eats, closes its mouth or holds on to a toy. A persistent low-grade bacteraemia will take its toll on any animal and insidiously age it. The promotion of oral homecare and the provision of advice and guidance with regards to protocols and products is largely the responsibility of the registered veterinary nurse (RVN) or veterinary technicians in veterinary practice, and as such they should aim to promote preventative health care rather than reactive health care. This article aims to explore the different types of products available to enhance good oral homecare and examine their claims, before suggesting an optimal ‘goldstandard’ oral homecare regimen and compromises to this optimal regimen.

The purpose of oral home care is to remove plaque. This matrix accumulates on the tooth surface and more importantly populates the gingival sulcus, where the bacteria in the matrix begin to irritate the gingival tissues. If this plaque and associated bacteria is not removed on a regular basis the irritation results in an inflammatory process and gingivitis is established (Figure 1). Gingivitis in many cases progresses from a mild form to moderate, and then to severe, all of which can be reversed and gingival health restored via tooth brushing. If gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, the destruction of tissues supporting the teeth, no amount of tooth brushing will reverse it and treatment under general anaesthetic will be indicated. It is recommended that at this point readers refer to Bloor‘s (2015) article regarding periodontal probing and charting for further information about the grades of gingivitis and progression to periodontal disease.

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