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ecoPure® naturals - "it's time to step up the fight against periodontal disease" white paper

by Dr. Steve Tsengas, Ph.D

As a pet lover, you’ve probably seen plenty of studies on the prevalence of periodontal disease in dogs and cats.  A recent example comes from Kansas State University, where Dr. William Fortney DVM estimates that 85 percent of dogs over the age of two suffer from some form of periodontal disease.  Most experts agree that this problem will become even more serous as the age of America’s pet population life span is extended thanks to improvements in diet and veterinary care.

Unfortunately, too many people in the pet industry view periodontal disease in pets, the way Mark Twain saw the weather, as something “everybody talks about, but nobody does anything to change”.  The time has come for us to back up our talk with action, because unlike the weather, we can – and should – do something about periodontal disease in our pets.

Periodontal disease is one of the most common medical problems facing dogs and cats, but fortunately it’s also one of the most simple and direct to address.  Regular visits to veterinarian for dental exams and cleaning are essential to bringing the problem under control.  However, as a retailer, you can also help your customers go beyond this step by recommending a diet and lifestyle choices that combat periodontal disease.

You can also play an invaluable role in educating your customer about the following:

  • The prevalence of periodontal disease is in pets.

  • The serious, even life-threatening consequences of facing pets when this disease is untreated.

  • How simple it is to control this problem through diet, home dental care and regular veterinary visits.

Believe it or not, many pet owners (especially newcomers) simply are not aware of how likely their dog or cat is to develop periodontal problems.  Others believe that there is very little that they can do to address this issue, and accept “doggie breath” and similar periodontal disease symptoms as a fact of life.

By setting your customers straight on these issues, you will be doing them and their pets a great service.  At the same time, you’ll also be generating added sales for your store.  The following “Periodontal Disease Primer” will help you accomplish this goal.

What is periodontal disease?

The word “periodontal” comes from two Greek words that mean “around the tooth”.  Periodontal disease involves the progressive infection and inflammation of the supporting structures around the tooth.  This can lead to the loss of the tooth itself, as well as to even more serious life threatening problems such as liver, kidney, lung and heart disease.

How does periodontal disease develop?

The simplest explanation is that it develops when food particles and bacteria in the mouth create a sticky invisible substance called plaque, which forms on the gum-line.  If plaque isn’t removed in 2-5 days it hardens and forms tartar.  Adhering strongly to the tooth, tartar causes gingivitis, the symptoms of which include redness of the gums, tenderness, swelling and bad breath.  When gingivitis is not treated it progresses into a more serious periodontal disease called periodontitis, which can result in the loss of bone and supporting tooth tissue.

Another serious problem arises when the bacteria associated with periodontal disease enters the blood stream through bleeding gums.  Once in the blood stream, this bacteria can cause life-threatening problems in the heart, lungs, liver and other organs.

What pets are most likely to develop periodontal disease?

Any pet is at risk of this disease, especially if proper preventative care is lacking.  Brachycegalic breeds such as pugs, boxers and bulldogs have a higher predisposition due to their facial and dental anatomy (their teeth do not clean as well naturally when they are eating).  Smaller breeds are also more susceptible to periodontal problems, as are older dogs and cats.  Animals that have a weakened immune system due to a disease life feline leukemia or hypothyroidism are another group predisposed to periodontal problems.

Are certain teeth in a dog more prone to periodontal problems?

Tooth anatomy and location definitely affect the level of risk of developing periodontal problems.  Molars are more susceptible to this disease than canines or incisors.  The fourth premolar is more susceptible of all, because of its proximity to the salivary glad, which releases chemicals and minerals conducive to tartar build up.  Also, the buccal surface of a tooth (the one facing the cheek) is more susceptible than the lingual surface, which faces the tongue.

Can diet help fight periodontal disease?

The periodontal health of their pets should be one of the prime factors in your decision making process when buying food.  A hard dry food will help remove plaque.  Being carnivores, dogs and cats will tear at and chew tough meat in nature.  The tearing and chewing of connective meat tissue will have a flossing effect on the animal’s teeth.  Hard food and chewy treats that mimic this natural action will help combat plaque build up.  However, in the case of chew treats you and your customers must balance this benefit against the issue of excessive weight gain.

Foods rich in niacin, foliate, minerals, protein and vitamins (especially vitamin C and Coenzyme Q10) will promote periodontal health.  Research conducted by Dr. May Dan Eades, MD, medical director of the Arkansas Center for Health and Weight control has found that vitamin C strengthens weak tissue and makes the gum lining more resistant to penetration by bacteria.

Although feeding our pets, and ourselves, natural, balanced, wholesome food is important, it may be unattainable in our modern, industrialized society. Commercial foods are too often devitalized in the process of preparation efficiency and extended shelf life. Adding a dietary supplement to a pet’s feeding regime may be a good idea to promote dental health.  This is especially true with older animals.  For example, although the body produces Coenzyme Q10 (a powerful antioxidant and a catalyst in the production of cellular energy), the level diminishes significantly after early adulthood.

The newly developed and launched ecoPure Healthy Gums & Teeth contains such critical natural ingredients as Coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, a bioflavonoid complex, green tea extract, alfalfa, dandelion powder and selenium – in palatable liver flavored chewable tablets. The ecoPure Healthy Gums & Teeth formula provides effective ingredients for increased cellular energy production and oxygenation, anti-oxidant action, control of undesirable oral bacteria, trace minerals, etc. Along with veterinary dental care and a healthy diet, ecoPure Healthy Gums & Teeth provides the extra dimension in the attack on periodontal disease.      

Can playing with toys help fight periodontal disease?

Toys that promote health chewing that mimics the tear and chew actions of an animal in nature can be instrumental in helping to remove plaque.  Of course a dog chews, the more effective this protection should be, so your customers should have a variety of entertaining toys available for their four-footed friends.

Playing with toys will also protect pets from periodontal disease by making them more relaxed and emotionally stable.  Stress has been shown to suppress the immune system, making pets more prone to periodontal disease and other ailments.

Should your customer brush their dogs teeth at home?

Home dental care in the form of brushing is very effective in combating periodontal disease.  You should encourage customers to start brushing pets’ teeth at an early age to make acceptance of this routine more likely.

What can you do to help your customers’ pets?

As we have seen there are many “weapons” to use in the fight against periodontal disease, including food, chews, dietary supplements, toys and home dental cleaning products.  However, none of these thing will be very effective unless they are backed up by a commitment to care for your pets’ dental health.


Dr. Steve Tsengas is the President / CEO of the OurPet's Company, maker of ecoPure Naturals


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