Oral disease is one of the most prevalent diseases in dogs and cats. 80% of adult dogs and 70% of adult cats have some form
of oral disease. Dental problems are among the top three pet owners concerns in dogs and cats. Calculus and gingivitis are
the most common conditions diagnosed by veterinarians in all ages of animals.
Successful treatment of periodontal disease requires a multi-modal approach including thorough professional examination and
periodontal therapy and the recommendation and application of an effective home care plan. Over the years, many products have
been developed and marketed for dental care in pets. The range of claims and research evidence of those claims is highly variable
making the decision for the pet owners difficult. The objective of this presentation is to assist technicians understand the
emerging concept in decision making, termed home-based medicine and to apply this concept in a review of the evidence supporting
various home care products for prevention and or treatment of periodontal disease in companion animals.
Companion animals have become an important part of our lives. Many people consider the pet a part of their family. The veterinarian
and his staff must educate the client about the need for professional dental care and quality home and then convince them
of its importance. Statistics show that 25 percent of your clients will accept whatever you say immediately; another 60 percent
will take a little time to accept your recommendations; the remaining 15 percent will not accept your suggestions.
The Importance of Dental Home Care
As veterinary health professionals, it is our job not only to promote dentistry but to educate our clients about the importance
of good oral health. How can we do this?
Oral health is achieved through a combination of professional therapy and home care. Dental home care refers to the procedures
pet owners use at home to control dental substrates. The goal of dental home care is daily plaque removal designed to maintain
oral hygiene and prevent the development of gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Home care does not routinely remove existing calculus and although there may be some benefit of plaque control in pets with
existing periodontal disease, the best results are obtained following the appropriate examinations and therapy. Dental home
care is not a substitute for regular professional examinations and treatment. Recommendation of the appropriate home care
product and application is the responsibility of the veterinarian after assessment of the pet's oral pathology and the pet
owner compliance through the appropriate education and training provided to the owner. Application of home care is the responsibility
of the pet owner and early evaluation by the veterinarian of the effectiveness of the home care application is critical to
the long-term success of the home care products. The home care method may be revised periodically revised to achieve the optimal
Before you prescribe home care for a patient, it is important to assess the client and the animal. Is the owner ready, willing
and able to perform proper home care? Are they committed, interested and physically able to provide care? Does the pet have
the temperament to allow for home care? All of these aspects must be considered before prescribing any home care regime.
It will not work to prescribe routine brushing if you know the client will not follow through. If this is the case, you may
be better off recommending an oral care diet as opposed to brushing.
Another consideration that needs to be taken into consideration when recommending home care is the degree of treatment necessary.
For young pets, the prevention of plaque accumulation can be achieved by plaque removal at least two times per week. For moderate
accumulations and disease, following a professional dental prophylaxis plaque removal every other day can help improve oral
health. When the degree of disease is severe, professional periodontal prophylaxis is necessary followed by twice a day chlorhexidine
rinses for one week and then once a week chlorhexidine rinses and daily brushing.