Those Pearly Whites…

During last week’s plant walk, we spent about an hour and a half talking about the medicinal plants growing on the bike path between Davis Sq and Cedar St in Somerville. Wrapping up, I asked if there were any questions, and a very nice guy who had been fairly quiet spoke up, saying “I’m a dentist, and I noticed that you spoke of many organ systems, but didn’t mention any herbs for teeth. Are there herbs for dental care?”

Good question! None of the plants we observed had specific applications for teeth. I then spoke a little about White Oak and its capacity for preventing cavities, but I was otherwise at a loss. I suppose I could have gone into the relationship between teeth and kidneys in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the importance of keeping the kidneys toned and flushed (lots of kidney plants on the bike path!).

Truth is, the very best dental care for dogs is raw bones. Inspect the teeth of any raw-fed dog and you will see plaque- and tartar-free teeth. Even if you have no interest in feeding raw, consider giving your dog chicken or turkey necks every week as a dental treat. (Caution: If your dog is a gulper, make sure to hold the end of the neck until he or she is safely chewing.) Chicken necks are only a few inches or more in length, so more appropriate for smaller dogs, whereas turkey necks are considerably larger, and better for the big dogs.

The length of the neck contains lots of soft, thin bones. As the dog chews, those soft little bones get into all those corners and crevices in the mouth, like a toothbrush. I had an uncle who was a dentist, and he taught his Golden to brush his own teeth by handing him a toothbush and letting him chew on the paste-filled bristles. But you can get the same results with poultry necks. And it’s yummier for the dog.

Because hebalism isn’t exactly paying the bills (shocking, isn’t it?), I manage a shop in Southie and hear frequent requests for dental treats. Today, in fact, a customer mentioned Nylabones. I Googled the ingredients for their Edible bacon:
Wheat starch, glycerin, Powdered Cellulose, lecithin, potato starch,…
There are lots (and I mean lots!) more, but should I even continue? Another well-known dental treat is Greenies. First seven ingredients: Gelatin, Wheat Protein Isolate, Glycerin, Pea Protein, Water, Potato protein, Sodium Caseinate, etc.

Really?

Anyway, I opened the freezer door and introduced her to a drawer full of necks (ingredients: chicken neck – or, ingredients: turkey neck). No gelatin, powdered cellulose, or $10 words that you can barely pronounce. Just food that your dog would digest normally – and keep his or her teeth clean.

The way Nature intended, really.

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