Not All Pet ToothPaste Is Created Equal: Using and Bluestem and Nylabone Toothpaste to compare ingredient efficacy.

There are a lot of products on the market today for managing your pet’s oral care. Greyhounds have a bit of a reputation for nasty teeth, and when I adopted Crowley, I made sure to have the right tools on hand to get the job of keeping those pearly whites clean. I would like to have him through a dental cleaning, but maintenance and proper care of Crowley’s teeth will keep putting that appointment off for a while.

Between peanut butter and chicken flavour, how do you know what your dog will like and work best for their mouth? There is the Veterinary Oral Health Council, but unfortunately, next to none of the products recommended are here in Canada. So… here is plan B! I’ve tried two kinds of toothpaste in Crowley’s mouth for up to 8 weeks at a time, and noticed a varied response in physical brushing, texture, and enjoyment.

While it may be tempting, please don’t use human toothpaste on your pet! A child’s toothbrush (of appropriate size) is fine though. Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Two Toothpastes I’ve Used

When my mom bought a tooth cleaning kit for the family cats, I decided to take advantage of having two brands to compare how different formulations function. I ended up later purchasing a tube of the Nylabone toothpaste for myself.

Here are the ingredients (common are found in bold):

BlueStem

  • Sorbitol
  • Hydrated silica
  • Water
  • Glycerin
  • Trisodium citrate
  • Flavour
  • Potassium benzoate
  • Citric acid
  • Disodium EDTA
  • Sodium carboxyl cellulose
  • Potassium sorbate
  • Zinc chloride

Nylabone

  • Sorbitol
  • Hydrated silica
  • Glycerin
  • Water
  • Ascorbic acid phosphate
  • Sodium hexametaphosphate
  • Magnesium aluminum silicate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Titanium oxide
  • Flavour
  • Cellulose gum
  • Tetrasodium pyrophosphate
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Potassium sorbate
  • Sodium copper chlorophyllin

The ingredients in toothpaste (for people and pets) can be grouped into categories.

Binders

To create the thick consistency that many of us consider standard for toothpaste several compounds must be added.

Sorbitol, glycerin, Sodium carboxyl cellulose, magnesium aluminum silicate, cellulose gum

Abrasives

Abrasives are the small, hard particles that actually perform the physical action of removing plaque and cleaning the tooth. The second ingredient in both products is hydrated silica, which is a gentle abrasive agent.

Hydrated silica

Preservatives

To maintain the shelf-life of many products, chemicals are added to prevent microbial growth and extend product life.

Potassium benzoate, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate

Detergents

The same molecule that creates the suds in your shampoo also produces the froth while you brush your dog’s teeth.

Sodium lauryl sulphate

Anti-Microbial

The production of calculus (tartar) is due to bacteria residing in the mouth. Molecules are able to inhibit specific microbes for a specific action like plaque removal and calculus prevention.

Trisodium citrate, citric acid, zinc chloride, ascorbic acid phosphate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, sodium copper chlorophylin

Stain Removal

White teeth don’t always mean healthy teeth, but staining isn’t ascetically pleasing.

Titanium oxide, sodium hexametaphosphate


Using Each Toothpaste on Mr. Crowley

Luckily, Mr. Crowley is a very patient boy. From the day I brought him home, I’ve never had trouble sticking a toothbrush in his mouth and brushing away. I usually brush his teeth after he finishes breakfast, but I don’t have a hard rule about timing his oral care. Continuous, daily care for his teeth is my larger priority (as noted below).

Those ears aren’t the only thing that needs to be squeaky clean! Image by oritslama from Pixabay

Specific variables about Mr. Crowley to note:

  • He is on a raw meat diet consisting of 15% raw meaty-bone (normally 2x chicken feet OR wing)
  • I brush his teeth with a 3+ child’s toothbrush 5-6x per week (used for both toothpastes)
  • I don’t use any other dental supplement, like a water additive or chew toy
  • Crowley’s current vet stated in December his teeth were the best she had seen from a recently retired greyhound in a very long time – so his teeth have been in good condition from the start

Bluestem Toothpaste

In October 2019, bluestem Toothpaste in chicken flavour was Crowley’s first toothpaste.

The first thing I noticed about the bluestem Toothpaste was it’s odd colour. It was an almost transluscent yellow, similar to a diluted bone or chicken broth. The paste itself wasn’t very sticky and I had some trouble having a pea-sized blob remain on Crowley’s Toy Story toothbrush. I did find the nozzle and cap to be much easier to clean without the stickiness though.

After several weeks of using this toothpaste, I noticed a lot more staining on Mr. Crowley’s teeth. It wasn’t plaque or calculus buildup, but almost as if he had been taking some sips of my morning coffee while I wasn’t looking. The lack of lather was accompanied by spread reduction, and therefore I wasn’t able to clean every single tooth with the recommended pea-sized amount. More than once I had to touch up my toothbrush while taking care of his entire mouth.

Nylabone Toothpaste

The next toothpaste I tried was one from Nylabone.

The Nylabone toothpaste appears similar to a regular human toothpaste; sticky, thick white paste that is slightly gritty. It doesn’t have a strong smell similar to the bluestem toothpaste, but the consistency isn’t gel-like. The first difference I noticed is that this paste lathered a lot more, and I could spread the product around Crowley’s mouth much better. He wasn’t pleased with froth flying onto his nose after licking, though!

A second observation I noticed is that after a few days, Mr. Crowley’s teeth were looking brighter than they had in a few weeks. The staining along his back molars seems to want to stick around, but his front teeth didn’t look like he’s had one too many coffees in the morning. His breath also appears to be fresher overall throughout the entire day, not just after brushing his teeth. Part of my morning alarm is having a wet nose stuck in my face. Crowley’s breath wasn’t intense the few weeks following the continuous use of Nylabone toothpaste.


Clearly, my preference in toothpaste to use on Mr. Crowley’s mouth is the Nylabone brand. The addition of SLS allows for a better cleaning job and spread of product, so I didn’t use more than the recommended amount. Additionally, the combination of sodium hexametaphosphate (a stain remover, preventative) and titanium oxide (whitener) visible makes a difference in the yellow staining that happens over time. The Nylabone toothpaste also contained more compounds (ascorbic acid phosphate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, and sodium copper chlorophyllin) to tackle the bacteria that cause bad breath. I suspect this aided in reducing the morning breath Mr. Crowley has a tendency to develop. Citric acid, found in the bluestem toothpaste, is known to both inhibit bacteria and cause enamel damage due to its low pH. Ascorbic acid phosphate is a higher-pH salt with the same antimicrobial properties, so I would argue it is safer to use over a more extended period. Finally, the stickiness of the Nylabone toothpaste from binders (magnesium aluminum silicate and cellulose gum) worked better with the toothbrush I had. There was far less toothpaste that ended up on the floor.

The bluestem toothpaste is an option for other dogs, though. Some studies (and consumer reports) have found it irritates gums and induce canker sores in some patients, so avoiding detergents for sensitive mouths is an option. If your dog requires a gentle toothpaste with fewer antimicrobial compounds for their sensitive mouth, then the bluestem toothpaste is an option rather than the harsher Nylabone paste.

Some Formulas Will Work Better for Different Purposes

When it came to figuring out the best routine for Mr. Crowley’s oral care, part of the equation was the right toothpaste. Reading and understanding the ingredients in the products you use, whether you like then or not, assists in the decision of future purchases. Using the bluestem toothpaste, then the Nylabone one, I noticed the formulation contributed to the issues I was facing with continuous use of the bluestem brand.

With quarantine still kicking, I hope you’ve taken some time to dedicate for your dog’s oral care!


References

  1. CIR Expert Panel. (2003). Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Aluminum Silicate, Calcium Silicate, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Magnesium Silicate, Magnesium Trisilicate, Sodium Magnesium Silicate, Zirconium Silicate, Attapulgite, Bentonite, Fuller’s Earth, Hectorite, Kaolin, Lithium Magnesium Silicate, Lithium Magnesium Sodium Silicate, Montmorillonite, Pyrophyllite, and Zeolite. International Journal of Toxicology, 22(1): 37-102. DOI: 10.1080/10915810390204890
  2. Rompelburg, C., et al. (2016). Oral intake of added titanium dioxide and its nanofraction from food products, food supplements and toothpaste by the Dutch population. Nanotoxicology, 10(10):1410-14. DOI: 10.1080/17435390.2016.1222457
  3. American Dental Association. (2019). Oral Health Topics: Toothpastes. https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/toothpastes

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