Weekly and daily tooth brushing by care staff reduces gingivitis and calculus in racing greyhounds

Nicola J Rooney, Katharine L Wonham, Katherine S McIndoe, Rachel A Casey, Emily J Blackwell, William J Browne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Periodontal disease is one of the most common conditions affecting dogs worldwide and is reported to be particularly prevalent in racing greyhounds. A range of potential risk factors have been hypothesised. Previous research has suggested that regular tooth brushing can reduce both calculus and gingivitis, but the frequency required is unclear. Here, we report a controlled blinded in situ trial, in which kennel staff brushed 160 racing greyhounds' teeth (living at six kennel establishments), either weekly, daily or never over a two-month period. All of the visible teeth were scored for calculus and gingivitis, using previously validated scales. We calculated average scores for each of the three teeth groups and overall whole mouth scores, averaging the teeth groups. Changes were compared to the baseline. After two months, the total calculus scores (controlling for baseline) were significantly different in the three treatment groups, (F(2,129) = 10.76, p < 0.001) with both weekly and daily brushing resulting in significant reductions. Gingivitis was also significantly different between groups (F(2,128) = 4.57, p = 0.012), but in this case, only daily brushing resulted in a significant reduction. Although the dogs in different kennels varied significantly in their levels of both calculus (F(5,129) = 8.64, p < 0.001) and gingivitis (F(5,128) = 3.51 p = 0.005), the intervention was similarly effective in all of the establishments. The teeth groups varied, and the incisors were not significantly affected by the treatment. Since the trainers implementing the routine, reported a minimal time commitment and positive experiences, we suggest that daily brushing is recommended for racing greyhounds, and that any instructions or demonstrations should include attention to all teeth groups including the incisors. Similar trials need to be conducted with retired greyhounds since these have been shown to present particularly high levels of periodontal disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1869
Number of pages12
Issue number7
Early online date23 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: The study was funded by Royal Society Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Grant code R102831-101.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • teeth
  • greyhound
  • intervention
  • brushing
  • calculus
  • gingivitis
  • dental
  • periodontal


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