Artigo - Rooted in Science: The Story of our Oral Care Products



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A process rooted in rigour

Dental care is at the centre of a dog’s overall health and wellbeing. Mars Petcare has worked hard to advance understanding of pet oral care research.

At the Global Innovation Centre in Leeds and The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, a multidisciplinary team of experts leads cutting-edge research into periodontal disease and other dental health issues.

They’re now ably supported by a ‘chewing robot’ – the latest addition to a rigorous testing process for each of our products, before they’re clinically trialled and before they reach our customers.

We chew things over for longer than you might think

The Mars team is hugely passionate about improving the oral care of our pets. This passion is evident at every stage of our product development process and we always have the pet and owner in mind.

For the pet, our product must deliver measurable oral care benefits. For the owner, the product must be credible and easy to use, so they will use it regularly in order for their pet to reap the benefits.

Dr Phil McGenity, Global Pet Oral Care Technical Leader, Mars Petcare

"If you ask me, or any of my colleagues who work on oral health R&D for Mars Petcare, ‘Why do you come to work?’ the answer will usually be, ‘To help pets have better oral care’."

"We always ensure that we have the hard data to support the claims we make for our oral care products. The test is very simple – we must be able to look a pet owner in the eye and say, ‘You can buy our product with confidence – it really will deliver what it says on the pack’"

Stage 1 - Research and development

Our first step is to carry out extensive research to ensure the validity and viability of any new product, or improvements to an existing one. The teams at our Global Innovation Centre and WALTHAM continuously look to the next evolution of oral care in our pets.

Dr Phil McGenity, Global Pet Oral Care Technical Leader, Mars Petcare

"The great thing about innovating in pet oral care is that, every time we make a better product, there is the prospect of a real benefit for millions of pets."

Stage 2 - Screening and texture testing

Next we test the textural properties of the new or improved product. This allows our team to make any necessary changes, before we move into more detailed product testing.

We use a range of methods to characterise our products’ mechanical properties – or texture – which play a key role in their oral care function.

The methods used assess how our products perform under the various types of deformation that occur during chewing (such as compression, tension, shearing and indentation). This allows us to create products that are safe to chew, yet tough enough to provide a thorough cleaning action.

Dr Phil McGenity, Global Pet Oral Care Technical Leader, Mars Petcare

"Texture testing is incredibly important. You need a texture that allows tooth penetration, so the teeth can penetrate through its surface and into the body of the product."

"This is the first necessary step for Pedigree® Dentastix™ Twice Weekly chews to deliver a “wiping” action, which helps remove plaque from tooth surfaces."

"As the teeth are withdrawn from the product, the texture “drags” or “grips” onto the tooth surface – the effect of this is to provide a “shearing force”, which helps to remove plaque."

"Once the teeth are completely withdrawn, the texture of Pedigree® Dentastix™ Twice Weekly chews is such that the holes made by the teeth tend to partly “heal” or “close over”."

"This helps to retain the “structural integrity” of the product, such that, as the dogs’ teeth start to penetrate for a further bite, there is a good chance that further “wiping” can occur."

Stage 3 - Laboratory testing: Chewing Robot

In our newest stage of testing, our unique ‘chewing robot’ – developed in-house by our Applied Science and Technology Team – gives us a unique insight into how our products can provide the very best oral care.

It’s at this stage we can analyse in detail how the products are working. We apply a plaque mimic to the robot’s teeth so we can observe its removal as the products are chewed.

And we can quantify the plaque removal to provide a measure of effectiveness. This is achieved by digitally analyzing the plaque-mimic coverage and comparing before and after images.

This new step means a product will be extensively tested for safety and efficacy before it reaches clinical trial, and most importantly, real dogs.

John Robinson, BDS, Dentist to the Veterinary Profession

"One of the key benefits of the chewing robot is it allows a preliminary testing stage before you move into clinical trials. Clinical trials are lengthy and expensive, but the chewing robot means the product can be refined and improved to ensure optimum effectiveness."

"Then you can move into the full clinical trial knowing it has already had extensive texture and plaque removal analysis."

Stage 4 - Digestibility testing

As well as ensuring products meet our high standards and are effective, Mars Petcare is passionate about ensuring product safety. All our products are subject to a laboratory test to check digestive breakdown, before being fed to any animal.

This test helps ensure that, should a large piece of product be swallowed, it is extremely unlikely to cause a digestive blockage.

Our products are assessed through the Boisen Large Sample digestibility test, where a minimum digestibility level is needed.

Dr Matthew Elliott, Global Capability Program Leader Care and Treats Global Innovation Centre, Mars Petcare

"The digestibility of a product is critical for a number of reasons. From a positive standpoint a highly digestible product releases nutrients to the body more effectively and prevents issues of loose or inconsistent stool quality."

"What is perhaps less often considered is the negative impact of a poorly digested material, such as digestive blockage and damage to the intestines. Given digestive quality is so important, Mars employs rigorous analytical testing to ensure that products break down and digest effectively to maximise the benefits and eliminate the risks of incomplete digestion."

Stage 5 - Full clinical trial

A full clinical trial is the gold standard of any testing process and every single one of our canine oral care products must face this crucial test. We use a best-in-class approach to studies, defined by leading experts in the field of veterinary dentistry, and in most cases conducted by independent, external experts.

A number of independent clinical studies run according to recommendations set out at the 8th Annual Veterinary Dental Forum showed Pedigree® Dentastix™ Daily Oral Care to reduce the formation build-up of plaque and calculus in dogs. These reduction levels exceed those observed when feeding dry diet alone.

These studies show that, by feeding one Pedigree® Dentastix™ Daily Oral Care chew per day, levels of plaque are reduced by approximately 30% on average, whilst levels of calculus were approximately halved. In some animals the levels of calculus were reduced by up to 80%.

For a deeper clean, Pedigree® Dentastix™ Twice Weekly chews have a revolutionary texture that flexes around teeth to clean to the gum line and are scientifically proven to reduce the build-up of plaque at the gum line, where it matters most.

Both Pedigree® Dentastix™ Daily Oral Care and Pedigree® Dentastix™ Twice Weekly have been tested in full clinical trials at independent research facilities.

While daily brushing is still the best way to prevent plaque build-up, it’s not always possible for owners. Pedigree® dental chews provide a way of helping to better the oral care of dogs that is both convenient for owners and enjoyable for their pets.

Stage 6 - Final check and packaging

Our technical work also embraces the assurance of the quality of our current products. For example, checks on every production batch to ensure that the product size, shape and texture are within the correct range.

Norman Johnston, BVM&S, FAVD, Dipl.AVDC, Dipl.EVDC, FRCVS

"As a veterinary dental specialist I have recommended DentaStix for many years. Pedigree have been very open with the veterinary profession about the science that underpins DentaStix. They take care to ensure the veterinarians and the public are aware that cleaning teeth with a toothbrush at least once daily is the gold standard."

"The veterinary oral hygiene market is awash with products that either have never been scientifically tested or have been subjected to inappropriate or ineffective trials. It is to Pedigree’s credit that they have not only performed scientifically valid trials but had them published in peer reviewed journals."

"Effective oral hygiene in the real clinical world requires a broad spectrum of tools and DentaStix remain an important part of this in my opinion."

What this means for vets

Our extensive research and innovative techniques for testing our products mean vets can feel confident in using and recommending Pedigree® Dentastix™ Daily Oral Care and Dentastix™ Twice Weekly chews.

We work with numerous dental experts and organisations to ensure our products do what they say they do and work as effectively as they can:

Dr Rachel Perry, BSc, BVM&S, MANZCVS, Dipl.EVDC, MRCVS

"A great standard of oral care can only be achieved if we vets can engage clients in a negotiation to achieve an outcome which is acceptable and realistic to vet, client and pet. In cases of poor compliance, other methods of preventative care can be successful for certain clients."

"Many vets will avoid directly recommending a specialist dental chew because of preconceived concerns, but with clear research and evidence showing the benefits, there is a place for products such as Pedigree® Dentastix™ Twice Weekly chews, when used correctly as part of a dental home care programme."

Lisa Milella, BVSc DipEVDC MRCVS

"The fundamental research that The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition undertakes is essential to understand oral conditions. They are one of very few institutes to undertake this research."

"I can confidently recommend Mars Petcare oral care products because I know all products have been developed based on science, with a key objective to fulfil, and then are tested and have evidence to support their claims."