Kris August, DVM
Issue: Volume 72 Fall 2024
Online Publication Date: 14 September 2023
Oral disease is a common concern that affects quality of life, particularly in geriatric and end-of-life patients. Treatments including dental cleaning, antibiotic therapy, and pain control are often needed to resolve conditions and to maintain comfort. Botanical therapies may also be useful in the treatment of various oral conditions including infections, inflammation, wounds, ulcerations, and in palliation of oral neoplasms. In animal patients, common administration is via herbal infusions as oral washes, either through supplemental drinking water or syringe application. Topical gel and honey formulations have the advantage of remaining in contact with tissues longer than water-based teas. A brief overview of plants frequently used for oral care traditionally and from the current literature is presented here with the intention of comparing their benefits and translating these into options for animal treatment. Much of the available research on botanicals for oral health is conducted on human patients and laboratory animals often using the antiseptic chlorhexidine as a standard for comparison. Due to the high rate of adverse effects reported with chlorhexidine usage, herbal alternatives may need to be considered, as they may provide similar therapeutic achievements while minimizing negative side effects.