Kelp has been used to reduce dental plaque and tartar (calculus) in dogs for several years now, and the results have been impressive. ProDen, the Sweden based manufacturer of PlaqueOff, has conducted extensive trial studies to show that Ascophyllum nosodum, a common brown kelp found in many oceans of the world, can help to reduce plaque and tartar buildup in dogs within just a few weeks. However, the mechanisms by which this kelp works its wonders have remained unclear. By all accounts it appears that some bioactive component of the kelp courses through the bloodstream to end up in the mouth— perhaps through salivary secretions or by other activities within the tooth sockets. Regardless, it works— and it does so with a broad margin of safety.
Now there may be new science to help explain this welcomed phenomenon— and the answer to “just how does this stuff work?” may not rest with the exact type of kelp that is used. Nor for that matter, even within the internal chemistry of the seaweed itself.
A study of the oral benefits of seaweed conducted at Newcastle University in England have identified Bacillus lichenformis, a breed of beneficial bacteria that resides on the surfaces of seaweed, as a powerful anti-plaque agent in the mouth.
After entering the mouth Bacillus lichenformis completes its lifecycle and releases an enzyme that breaks down the bacterial biofilm that causes dental plaque and the calculus we know as tartar. Kelp also contains a multitude of important trace minerals that support healthy teeth and gums, along with alginates— polysaccharide constituents that are known for their slimy, viscous properties. These polysaccharides carry their own antibacterial activities into the mouth as well, creating athin coating of film on the teeth and gums that helps to protect and support healthy bacterial balances. Animal Essentials Inc has now just released a new product called SeaDent for Dogs, which combines the healthful, mineral rich attributes of Laminaria digitata kelp with a guaranteed measure of the protease enzyme produced by Bacillus licheniformis. SeaDent is also fortified with supplemental doses of four other plaque-fighting enzymes, including amylase (to break down carbohydrates and starches between the teeth), cellulose (to break down plant materials/vegetable particles), papain (to aid in the breakdown of meats) and lysozyme— to supplement the antibacterial enzymes that dogs naturally carry in their saliva. Together, the formulation offers reliable, easy-to-feed and affordable mitigation and prevention of plaque forming bacteria.