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Periodontal disease is the most prevalent chronic infectious disease worldwide, affecting over 80% of dogs and cats. In clinical practice we see periodontitis leading to progressive destruction of the tooth supporting tissues, bone resorption and tooth loss.
Bacterial plaque is the primary contributing factor in the initiation of periodontal disease. Undisturbed plaque bathed in saliva will become mineralised, forming calculus. Albeit not a direct contributor to the disease, mineralised dental plaque encourages addition plaque to attach, which fuels the disease process. Despite the existence of numerous methods of treating periodontal disease, dental plaque and calculus remain prevalent in the oral cavities of many of our patients and their control remains the critical means of prevention and therapy of periodontal disease in dogs and cats.
In a human study published in Clin Oral Invest (2015) 19:1507–1518, van Dijken et al found that daily intake of the algae Ascophyllum nodosum as an adjunct to customary oral hygiene showed a reduction of 52% in supragingival calculus formation and reduced plaque formation. They also found the calculus in the algae group was characterised by a more porous and less solid structure and was easier to remove than the calculus in the control group. This is relevant to us as veterinary dentists, as the calculus is easier to remove, which translates to shorter anaesthesia and dental procedure time.
In two veterinary studies by Gawor et al, published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science (2018) 5, doi: 10.3389/fvets.2018.00168, and Weterynaria W Praktyce (2013) 10, the above results were replicated in dogs and cats when seaweed containing Ascophyllum nodosum was fed as a food supplement.
These studies showed a reduction in plaque, calculus and the overall oral health index when compared to the control group.
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