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To Tell the Tooth: From Brushes to Dental Wipes, These Pet Products Have Oral Health Care Covered

Glenn Polyn//February 1, 2024//

To Tell the Tooth: From Brushes to Dental Wipes, These Pet Products Have Oral Health Care Covered

Glenn Polyn //February 1, 2024//

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It’s widely known that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends a pet’s teeth and gums be checked at least once a year by a veterinarian for signs of problems and to help keep its mouth healthy. In addition, maintaining a pet’s dental hygiene is a cost-effective precaution for preventing oral infections and diseases.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), it is estimated that more than 80 percent of dogs and cats aged 3 or older suffer from periodontal disease, which will worsen as the pet grows older if effective preventative measures are not taken. Therefore, the dental market is seeing an increase in innovative dental care products – everything from chews to rinses to toothbrushes.

However, while most pet parents know that dental care is important for overall pet health, they might not know how to start an oral care regimen. Not all consumers have the time to regularly brush their pet’s teeth and to take them for professional cleanings.

That’s why, according to industry experts, pet parents are seeking dental products that offer ease of use and are quick solutions for maintaining their companion animals’ oral health. Overall, pet parents are looking for products that are effective but convenient, and they are gravitating toward products with natural ingredients and no artificial additives as they are concerned about possible health risks of chemicals and non-natural substances.

For example, Smartmouth Dental Chews from The Missing Link is a dental product designed to answer that need with natural, tasty, wholesome ingredients that support full-body health. Made in the U.S.A, these dental chews are effective in reducing plaque and tartar, are easily digested and are easy and fun to feed. Pet parents love the convenience of giving their pups a once-a-day chew; the dogs get a tasty and fun to gnaw while at the same time benefiting from natural, safe health support.

When it comes to retail strategies, Missing Link notes that the dental aisle remains crowded, making it important that retail staff talks to customers to determine what solution is most convenient while meeting the individual pet’s needs. Smartmouth offers effective on-shelf POP with simple messaging, product videos on YouTube and its 100 percent satisfaction guarantee; if a customer is not happy in any way, they can return the product for an exchange or full refund.

Of course, today’s pet brands offer a wide range of dental products, from supplements and chews to brushes and wipes, which provide a measure of convenience for consumers. Bow Wow Labs is a brand that answers the call for an effective oral-care product, one that meets specific criteria: it is readily accepted by the pet, delivers results that reduce plaque and oral inflammation, and it is user-friendly for daily application. The brand’s oral care line provides a multi-modal approach to oral health by offering a toothbrush and toothpaste gel as well as a chew. This provides easy-to-use products that are fast and effective methods for delivering the oral care benefits our pets need.

Johnna Devereaux is a clinical pet nutritionist and chief nutrition officer at Bow Wow Labs, where she is responsible for the formulation of the brand’s product line. While the Bow Wow Labs toothbrush and toothpaste gel are suitable for both dogs and cats, its Epic Chew is designed exclusively for dogs.

“Our 4-in-1 toothbrush targets the gumline and entire tooth for efficient brushing,” Devereaux explained. “Our 4-in-1 toothpaste gel, with natural ingredients, soothes gums, reduces inflammation and offers enzymatic activity to help breakdown bacteria responsible for plaque and, subsequently, tartar. The Epic Chew offers a rich source of antioxidant supplementation, combined with its unique design provides not only a chewing experience but also one that massages gums and prevents plaque and tartar buildup.”

Yummy Combs is another innovative dental product, and it’s one that has a distinct appearance. Yummy Combs are unique, honeycomb-shaped dental chews specifically designed to floss a dog’s teeth and gum line.

“Sometimes I describe the shape as a hybrid between a ‘theoretical hexagonal hockey puck’ and the hexagonal cells of the interior of a beehive,” said Joe Roetheli, creator of Yummy Combs. “The top ridges of the hexagonal inner cells of a Yummy Combs floss 360 degrees around the teeth with up to 256 scrubbing surfaces to clean the teeth from top to bottom and the teeth from both jaws simultaneously.”

Roetheli describes Yummy Combs as the world’s first, and only, science-backed, patented, award-winning dental treat that safely removes tartar, which is a major contributor to gum disease as it houses bacteria and the granular particles of tartar can contribute to sore gums. Yummy Combs also contains 44 percent protein for a complete and balanced diet, plus it is grain-free, gluten-free and non-GMO. Yummy Combs was designed to be a full-body treat that addresses dental health, superior nutrition and great taste, while avoiding any potential choking hazards. Oral care, Roetheli explains, is much more important than most dog parents realize.

“Yummy Combs is hybrid wellness for dogs,” he said. “Hybrid is defined as combining two or more elements to achieve an improved output. That is a near perfect call out for Yummy Combs. They combine state-of-the-art oral care, advanced safety, superior nutrition, over 90 benefits, plus great taste and are very easy to use. Just hand one Yummy Combs per day to your dog. The revolutionary shape is its most unique functional feature, and the shape makes the difference deterring and removing tartar from teeth and advancing safety by deterring gulping, choking and bowel obstructions via its revolutionary shape.”

Yummy Combs has earned the coveted VOHC Seal of Acceptance for Tartar Control. In addition, a recent clinical study via independent third-party testing has shown a 26 percent removal of hardened tartar and improved breath by 46 percent through treating a dog with Yummy Combs once a day for 60 days. Roetheli feels this data will change the way dog dental care is affected.

“We have visited with board-certified veterinary dentists and have reason to believe that the Yummy Combs concept, with some tweaking, can work on cat’s teeth, too,” Roetheli noted. “We have had ferret owners in other countries report impressive results with Yummy Combs. However, we have no validation of the reported results. We have no reason not to believe the reported results, but on the other hand, we simply do not have independent clinical results to support the statement.”

Since its establishment in 1998, NPIC has been committed to enhancing the well-being of pets through its innovative and nutritious pet treats. Over the years, the company has gained a strong reputation for its unwavering commitment to quality, safety and sustainability. NPIC has expanded its product line to cater to the diverse needs of pets for any life stage. From the brand’s bestselling N-Bone Puppy Teething Rings to Get Naked Functional Dental Sticks, the company continues to innovate and develop new formulations that align with the evolving demands of pets. The brand also has dental chew sticks for cats and ferrets, which have their own dental health needs.

Kim McClure, NPIC senior marketing manager, points to convenience being a major factor in how consumers choose dental products for their pets. In addition, pet parents seek simplified ways to keep their pet’s teeth clean without expensive trips to the vet. Other key factors go into their decision, including the pet’s effectiveness, ingredients and – perhaps most importantly – the enjoyment factor that the pet receives in the product. Dental treats and chews, like N-Bone Puppy Teething Rings and Cat Chew Sticks and Get Naked’s Functional Chew Sticks, can effectively help reduce plaque and tartar buildup on a pet’s teeth through active chewing. McClure explains that the form of the oral care product plays a huge role in whether it is effective for pets.

“Does the chew actually get to those hard-to-reach areas near a pet’s gums that can reduce harmful plaque and tartar buildup?” she asked, adding that the distinct grooves, twists and raised patterns in a quality dental chew can effectively help scrub the teeth of buildup. “Ensuring that the chew actually lasts long enough in order to help reduce the buildup is also important.”

According to McClure, NPIC is excited to launch a new floss-like form factor for dogs called Flossta this month under its N-Bone brand. This unique design has a pliable texture that dogs can manipulate and enjoy for an extended period to help keep teeth free of buildup. In addition, Flossta features natural herbs like parsley and fennel that help freshen your dog’s breath.

Preventative measures are important in the battle against dental disease. That is why a partnership between retailers and health brands is important to promote expert advice on the different options in oral-care products that can be incorporated into a regular dental routine.

Debra Decker, director of marketing at Pet King Brands, believes retailers looking to promote oral-care products should consider highlighting the preventative care properties of the products. After all, pet oral care is not a post-problem solution.

“Effective oral-care products must consider the elimination and prevention of odor and plaque,” she explained. “These qualities aid in the promotion of healthy teeth and gums. Our Oratene dental products work to prevent tartar buildup, gum disease and tooth decay with the power of enzymes. Oratene provides superior oral care for your pets because it contains the antibacterial enzymes of the LP3 Enzyme System and the MD2 Enzyme System. This effectively inhibits the growth of plaque-forming bacteria and reduces the development of plaque biofilm adhering to the teeth.”

Decker says pet parents are looking for ease of application and reduced stress on their pets, which is the keystone of brushless products.

“Our line of oral-care products leans into burying the brush,” she added. “The Oratene Enzymatic Brushless Oral Care line harnesses the power of enzymes to help keep your dog or cat’s teeth and gums clean, fresh and healthy — without the hassle of the toothbrush.”

Skout’s Honor is another brand that has designed its products to eliminate the possibility of a pet parent wrestling with their companion animal. Last year the brand entered the pet oral care category with its line of brushless products that break down and prevent plaque and tartar, while freshening breath. The new line includes water additives, an oral gel, dental wipes and an advanced dental drops solution.

Skout’s Honor’s dental products are created for pet parents who want easy-to-use solutions that make the oral care routine something their pets will enjoy. Pete Stirling, president and CEO of Skout’s Honor, describes the brand’s oral care line as simple, easy-to-use products that help eliminate and prevent the formation of build-up tartar.

“Let’s be real, who really enjoys brushing their pet’s teeth?” he asked. “The advent of brushless products has made oral care a more realistic part of a pet’s wellness routine. That being said, the most important part of addressing a pet’s oral care needs is to find a product that helps to eliminate and prevent the formation of built-up tartar. Plaque is bad, but it is tartar that ultimately causes the problems we are trying to mitigate.”

Skout’s Honor Oral Care products effectively help to eliminate the formation of tartar and break down existing tartar on the teeth. The brand’s technology does this by robbing the teeth of the necessary building blocks required to build tartar while weakening the biofilm build up, making it easier to remove.

Following trends in other pet categories, the selection of oral-care products is expanding, which means retailers have their work cut out for them in deciding on what products deserve their shelf space. Making it more complicated is the potential lack of consumer knowledge regarding the importance of dental hygiene to a pet’s overall health.

Dental experts agree that retailers should advise their customers that bad breath is a strong indicator of a dental problem, as halitosis may stem from tooth decay and gum issues. Devereaux of Bow Wow Labs supports educating consumers about the direct correlation between oral health and overall health is essential.

“Most pet parents do not understand that excess bacteria and inflammation in the mouth is directly connected to inflammation throughout the body and has also been linked to distant organ disease,” she noted. “Utilizing eye-catching POP signs or employee pins with messages like ‘Ask me why dental health matters’ will engage customers and open avenues for education.”

She added that strategies “such as providing informative signage and engaging employees, will raise awareness about the crucial connection between oral health and overall pet health.”

As McClure of NPIC agrees, and she sees consumers becoming more proactive about their companion animal’s oral health to avoid costly trips to the vet. She believes retailers can help by spreading the word that oral care should become part of a daily or weekly health routine with their customer’s pet.

“Recognizing that oral care has become a focus, [a retailer] should have its own dedicated section within stores and highlighted on any website and social media pages,” she said. “Understanding that poor oral health leads to so many other health issues down the road is important for pet parents to hear. No one wants costly visits to the vet, so utilizing dental chews each day can help deter those trips, but also keep their pet engaged and active.”

In addition to recommending that pet parents address their pet’s bad breath with a veterinarian, industry experts advise pet retailers to stock a wide variety of dental care products to ensure that their customers will find the dental offering that is right for their pet. However, Yummy Combs creator Roetheli notes that retailers should ask pet brands to provide evidence validating their claims that the products are effective.

“Validate claims and promote only those products that provide actual validation of claims,” he concluded. “Do not include products in the dental treat category that state ‘dental’ or ‘oral care’ on the package, but do not provide validation… Do not dilute the category with treats that do not validate a dental claim.”