Savvy animal guardians know a dog or cat’s overall well-being is profoundly affected by the health of his teeth and gums. It’s something Dr. Jeffrey Hillman, DMD, PhD, has been aware of for many years. “We know oral health impacts the health of the entire body,” he says.
Formerly a Professor in the College of Dentistry at the University of Florida, Dr. Hillman is now the Chief Scientific Officer of Oragenics Inc. “I co-founded Oragenics to bring to market the fruits of research I had been working on for more than 25 years,” he says. “We’re a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing breakthrough technologies that address the leading social health concerns we face today, including infectious diseases, cancer and obesity.”
Oragenics develops technologies and products for humans and also offers one for animals, with more in the works. Teddy’s Pride is a probiotic oral care product for dogs and cats. “In my research, I was able to identify three specific strains of good bacteria that are present in a healthy mouth, but absent when disease occurs,” Dr. Hillman explains. “This work led to the development of ProBiora3, the active ingredient in Teddy’s Pride.”
The product is simply sprinkled on a dog or cat’s food. “When eaten, the freeze-dried beneficial bacteria in the product come back to life and attach to the teeth and gums,” says Dr. Hillman. “Once attached, they interfere with the growth of certain bacteria largely responsible for bad breath. The beneficial bacteria also produce peroxide, which reduces staining on the animal’s teeth.”
Although you might assume Teddy’s Pride was named after a dog, that’s not the case. “While the product was in the final stages of development, we interviewed large numbers of consumers and found most buyers unanimously connect with the name ‘Teddy’, many visualizing a cuddly teddy bear,” explains Dr. Hillman. “We chose the word ‘Pride’ because it conveys how we feel about the product. It also represents a family of cats. The feedback we received when we put the two words together was tremendous – people immediately identified with the product and seemed to feel our intention in creating it.”
An animal lover himself – “I am the proud father of one cat, and godfather to a large number of raccoons, squirrels, deer and birds who share my back yard” – Dr. Hillman is excited about Oragenics’ ongoing research into additional products for dogs and cats. We are currently researching several new technologies that have very promising applications for addressing several animal health conditions affecting millions of dogs and cats today.
“One of the great services animals offer to mankind is their ability to help us become better people,” Dr. Hillman continues. “Their unconditional love has a very positive effect on us, both emotionally and physiologically. Creating easy solutions that can help support the care and overall health of animals is very rewarding.”