Veterinary Oral Health Council

Protocols & Submissions: Brushing

The effectiveness of brushing teeth depends not only on the brush used, but also on the duration of brushing and the technique used while brushing. To ensure VOHC trials are as uniform as possible, standardized techniques for brushing the teeth of dogs and cats have been adopted for use during VOHC trials.

Additional Comments on Brushing

The VOHC brushing techniques are recommended by AVDC for clinical use, with the following additional comments:  

  1. As standard practice in companion animals, all teeth (and ideally all surfaces of all teeth) should be brushed daily.
  2. While the standardized VOHC brushing techniques are to be used in dogs and cats in VOHC protocol trials, AVDC and VOHC recognize that some dogs and cats will not cooperate with daily brushing, and may not tolerate the full VOHC brushing sequence.
  3. Any brushing activity, used regularly, is better than no brushing activity. 
  4. Some periodontal pathology may require use of a different type of brush or different brushing technique, such as when there is a complete furcation defect. AVDC recommends that pet owners ask their veterinarian whether the VOHC standardized brushing technique is appropriate for their dog or cat. 
  5. Dental plaque and tartar accumulate most rapidly on the buccal (cheek) surfaces of the upper teeth of dogs and cats - these areas should be targeted for particular attention during regular brushing that may not include the full VOHC brushing sequence.
  6. AVDC recognizes that, when practical in clinical use, brushing the teeth of pet dogs and cats should also include additional strokes on the palatal/lingual (“inside”) surfaces of the teeth. The palatal/lingual surfaces are not to be brushed in VOHC trials because doing so would risk inadvertent strokes on the buccal surface of the teeth in this standardized testing model.

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VOHC Trials of a Novel Brush or Similar Device

If a VOHC trial is of a brush or similar previously untested mechanical-action device, the trial does not have to include a non-brushed control group – it can consist only of a VOHC standard brush group and a ‘test’ brush or device group. The standard VOHC Brushing Technique (Dogs, Cats) is to be used.

To be awarded the VOHC Accepted Seal, the results from the test device group are to be statistically “at least as good as” the results in the VOHC Accepted brush group, and there is to be no evidence of mechanical injury to the mouth, as shown by pre- and post-trial gingivitis scores or inspection for oral inflammation, ulceration or laceration in the test group. 

VOHC requires that when a chemical anti-plaque or anti-tartar (calculus) product is tested and its recommended use by consumers includes application by a brush or other device or finger that is pressed against the teeth, a positive control group (consisting of the application of the brush, device or finger without the chemical agent or by using a placebo agent) is not required if the brush is a VOHC Accepted product. See Required Groups for more information.

VOHC recommends that commercial sponsors of a mechanical-effect product that may be suitable for consideration as a VOHC Accepted product contact VOHC early in the process of determining methodology for the required VOHC trials – send an email message to VOHC@AVDC.org.

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