Scientists have created a unique “chewing robot“ in a bid to improve canine oral care by providing insights into how potential new products or prototypes are performing when it comes to plaque removal.

Using a scan of a real canine mouth and jaw, the 3D-printed model replicates the normal mastication action of a dog and the pressures it might exert on a dental chew.

By painting the robotic teeth with a coloured compound that mimics dental plaque, scientists can comprehensively, but rapidly, test the effectiveness of different product materials and shapes in removing that plaque.

Developed by Mars Petcare, the “chewbot“ therefore allows scientists to hone and refine canine food products at a much earlier stage in the research and development process.

Phil McGenity, global pet oral care technical leader at Mars Petcare, said the robot allows scientists to observe the effects of a dental chew much easier than in a real dog.

“Typically, it’s very difficult to look inside the mouth of a dog while it’s chewing, but this robot allows us to assess products more rapidly than we’ve ever been able to in the past,” he said.

“It means we can continually improve the texture and materials in our products.”

Mr McGenity added new research developments, such as the chewing robot, are vital to improving home dental care in dogs and giving vets the confidence to recommend dental chews to dog owners.

Although brushing is regarded as the gold standard, he believes vets need to work more closely with owners to improve home care via the use of dental products.

“If we are going to deliver best dental and oral care for pets, we need a collaborative approach,” he said.

“Having the tools and products to help with home care is part of that mix as well.”

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