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Do dental sticks really work?

Food & Nutrition

Written by Karin Lundgren

Licensed Veterinary Nurse

I have been working for the last 10 years doing what I love - making sure our pets, especially cats and dogs, are healthy and happy. After graduating from SLU, in 2013, I have worked in both larger animal hospitals and smaller clinics, with anaesthesia, dentistry and nutrition.

Meet the team

For a really clean and healthy dog-mouth, we recommend toothbrushing and a dental stick per day. But what evidence is there that dental sticks have an effect, and can they actually prevent dental issues? Here we dig a little deeper into some of the scientific studies that looked at the effect of a daily dental chew for the dog.

For those of you who do not feel like reading the whole text, we can actually summarize the answer like this: They do work. The first variants of dental sticks came in the 90's, and since then quite a few research studies have looked at their effect in both the short and long term.

What do the studies show?

Most studies have been set up in a similar way. The dogs that participated in the study have been divided into two groups; one group has been allowed to eat only dry food, and the other group has been allowed to eat the same dry food plus a daily dental stick. Then, after a certain time interval, oral health assessments were made and researches looked at the presence of plaque, tartar and gingivitis.

All studies in the list below (Clarke, Quest, Gorrel and Brown) show a significant difference between the groups - the group that was allowed to eat a dental stick had a significantly lower incidence of bad breath, plaque, tartar and gingivitis.

"Daily administration of the dental chew was shown to reduce halitosis, as well as, significantly reduce gingivitis, plaque and calculus accumulation and therefore may play a significant role in the improvement of canine oral health over the long-term."

A study by Clarke et. al. also looked specifically at breeds that are more prone to dental disease: toy breeds. This study was conducted for 70 days and also confirmed that a daily dental stick reduced gingivitis and tartar in these dogs.

In 1999, Gorrel et. al. conducted a longer study, spanning a full 21 months, to evaluate the long-term effect. This study showed that dogs that received a dental stick six days per week, had a lower incidence of tartar, better oral health and could go longer between dental treatments at the vet.

How should I use dental sticks?

It is worth noting that in all these studies where the dental chews have been shown to have a good effect, the dogs have received dental sticks daily or at least six times a week. We therefore want to emphasize the importance of giving one dental stick per day, to ensure a really good effect and the best possible oral health for your dog.

And remember - even if dental sticks have a proven effect, the most efficient way to prevent tartar will always be tooth brushing, and dental sticks can be used as a complement. In this article you can read more about oral health or how to brush your dog's teeth.

Our dental sticks are enriched with insect protein and ingredients that contribute to good oral health and fresh breath, and you can find them by clicking the picture of lovely Alva enjoying her stick:

One dental stick a day, keeps the dentist away, so chew away!

References from scientific studies

Clarke et al, 2011: Effectiveness of a vegetable dental chew on periodontal disease parameters in toy breed dogs

Conclusion: "Daily administration of the dental chew was shown to reduce halitosis, as well as, significantly reduce gingivitis, plaque and calculus accumulation and therefore may play a significant role in the improvement of canine oral health over the long-term."

Quest, 2013: Oral health benefits of a daily dental chew in dogs

Conclusion: "Adding a dental chew to the diet resulted in statistically significant reductions in plaque and calculus accumulation, and oral malodor while improving gingival indices."

Gorrel et al, 1999: Effect of a new dental hygiene chew on periodontal health in dogs

Conclusion: "Daily addition of the chew to the dry diet was effective in reducing plaque and calculus accumulation on the tooth surfaces, and also reduced the severity of gingivitis and oral malodor as compared to feeding the dry diet only."

Gorrel et al, 1999: Long-term effects of a dental hygiene chew on the periodontal health of dogs

Conclusion: "The results of the study support that feeding of the dental hygiene chew six days per week reduces accumulation of dental deposits, helps maintain periodontal health, and increases the time interval between professional periodontal intervention."

Brown et al, 2005: Effective periodontal disease control using dental hygiene chews

Conclusion: "The dental hygiene chews tested in this study have potential to help reduce the incidence of periodontal disease in dogs."

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