Animal habits 

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  Posted by: Dental Design      24th March 2022

Humans share many similarities with our animal counterparts – for example, we share many traits with great apes, our nearest relatives. These include large body sizes, longer lifespans, socialisation and tool use.[i] One similarity that we share with the majority of animals is that of teeth – from snails to sharks, crocodiles to cats, teeth function as a means to tear, chew and grind food. Our teeth may come in different shapes and sizes, but we all rely on them in order to process our food and sustain ourselves. However, it is humans who are constantly at risk of developing oral health issues – in the UK alone, over 3 million Britons suffer from regular oral pain, almost 31% have tooth decay and 74% have had a tooth extracted.[ii] So, do animals experience oral health issues like humans do? How do they keep their mouths clean?

Looking after our teeth should be a lifelong practice, but with a diet that is rich in carbohydrates, acids and refined sugars, keeping our mouths healthy can be a struggle. Dental professionals are not only dedicated to providing oral healthcare, but also educating patients on ways to better manage their oral health. This may come in the form of dietary and lifestyle advice, educational resources and recommending products that are tried and tested to keep teeth, mouths and gingiva healthy.

Natural ingredients are ever-present in health and wellbeing products, demonstrating our acknowledgement of nature’s efficacy in our everyday lives.

Nature’s oral healthcare

One study[iii] was designed to demonstrate the effect of captivity on the oral health of lions and tigers. The researchers discovered that the severity of calculus build-up and periodontal disease was higher in the captive animals in comparison to those in the wild. This was due to the diet of ground meat that the captive lions and tigers were fed, which lacks the toughness and hardness of a wild carnivorous diet. The study concluded that abrasive material in natural diets, such as bone and connective tissue, is correlated with lower incidences of oral issues in wild felids.iii

The animal diet is typically rich in fibre, and some animals chew their food for longer periods, which can help prevent food from becoming trapped between their teeth. For example, gorillas eat a largely fibrous, vegetarian diet, containing stems, bamboo shoots and fruits.[iv] Carnivorous animals, such as wolves, hyenas and bears eat foods rich in proteins and fats that are easily digestible, such as other mammals and fish.[v] For us humans, it is generally accepted that proper nutrition can decrease the risk and burden of diseases and illnesses,[vi]especially those linked to oral health complications, such as periodontitis.[vii]

As our lives have become more fast-paced and demanding, convenient foods – usually processed and/or pre-packed – have become a staple of our diets. In 2018, the UK population consumed an annual average of 211.5 litres of soft drinks per person[viii] and approximately 95 million cups of coffee per day.[ix] Between 2019-2020, 506,100 hospital admissions were attributed to smoking.[x] These harmful habits wreak havoc on our mouths, teeth and gingiva, so what can we do to protect them? Do natural ingredients have the efficacy and potency to combat oral health issues, caused by our damaging diets?

Powers of the plant kingdom

Certain substances and extracts from the plant kingdom have proven their capability against various illnesses, diseases and symptoms. Bioflavonoids are one such substance, found in fruits, vegetables and flowers, which are responsible for their bright colours. Studies[xi][xii] have shown citrus bioflavonoids to be effective against inflammation, and have improved cardiovascular outcomes – they are also noted for their antioxidant abilities. One study[xiii] investigated the effects of Citrox®, a formulation of soluble citrus bioflavonoids. The study found that the two formulations of Citrox® tested demonstrated substantial antimicrobial activity.  

Dental professionals may consider recommending products that harness the properties of these citrus bioflavonoids – ‘Perio plus’, for instance, has formulated a range of oral rinses that maximise the powers of Citrox® for an optimal oral care solution. Extracted from bitter oranges, Citrox® is partnered with chlorhexidine – another powerful ingredient shown to provide protection against caries and plaque accumulation.

The animal world exhibits how natural products can aid in the maintenance and prevention of oral health issues. For humans, our harmful diets and habits can make keeping our mouths, teeth and gingiva free from harm much harder. Recommending oral hygiene products, that combine natural goodness with trusted ingredients, is one way to help patients have a healthier smile, naturally.


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[i] Association for Psychological Science. Humans are animals, too: a whirlwind tour of cognitive biology. Available online. Accessed 14 Oct. 21.

[ii] Oral Health Foundation. Oral health statistics in the UK. Available online. Accessed 14 Oct. 21.

[iii] ScienceDirect. Oral correlates of captivity. Available online. Accessed 14 Oct. 21.

[iv] WWF. What do gorillas eat? Available online. Accessed 15 Oct. 21.

[v] LibreTexts. Mammal structure and function. Available online. Accessed 15 Oct. 21.

[vi] Oxford Academic. Nutrition research to affect food and a healthy lifespan. Available online. Accessed 15 Oct. 21.

[vii] US National Library. The role of nutrition in periodontal health. Available online. Accessed 15 Oct. 21.

[viii] Statista. Average consumption of soft drinks in the UK from 2013 to 2018, per person. Available online. Accessed 15 Oct. 21.

[ix] British Coffee Association. Coffee facts. Available online. Accessed 15 Oct. 21.

[x] NHS. Statistics on smoking, England 2020. Available online. Accessed 15 Oct. 21.

[xi] US National Library of Medicine. Beneficial effects of citrus flavonoids on cardiovascular and metabolic health. Available online. Accessed 15 Oct. 21.

[xii] Taylor & Francis Online. Recent developments in citrus bioflavonoid encapsulation to reinforce controlled antioxidant delivery and generate therapeutic uses. Available online. Accessed 15 Oct. 21.

[xiii] British Dental Journal. Antimicrobial activity of CITROX® bioflavonoid preparations against oral microorganisms. Available online. Accessed 15 Oct. 21.

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