Kissing Your Dog Could Increase Your Risk of Gum Disease

Published:October 31st, 2012

Lots of people have pretty affectionate relationships with their pet pooches, letting their dog ‘kiss’ them on the mouth and lick them as a sign of affection. However some new research might just change their mind. Researchers in Japan carried out a study and found people exchanging kisses with their dog could increase their risk of developing gum disease.

The study involved 81 humans and 66 dogs and took dental plaque from pets and owners who were attending a dog training school and animal clinic last year. These plaque samples were then analysed to find specific species of bacteria known to cause gum disease. The researchers found that dogs were far more likely to have gum disease than the humans, which is hardly surprising since most pet owners don’t brush their dog’s teeth that frequently.

They found there were three different types of plaque that were prevalent amongst the dog’s plaque samples, including  Porphyromonas gulae which was found in 71.2% of samples, Campylobacter rectus which was found in 66.7% of the samples, and Tannerella forsythia which was found in 77.3% of the plaque samples. The researchers found these particular bacteria were less likely to be found in the samples from humans, but were present occasionally. Porphyromonas gulae was founded in 16% of the human samples, while Campylobacter rectus was found in 21%. Tannerella forsythia was found in 30.9% of human plaque samples. The common denominator was the Porphyromonas gulae plaque bacteria as this was found in the most number of dogs and humans, suggesting that these species can be transmitted between dogs and humans.

Not surprisingly a lot of people don’t agree with these results, especially those dog lovers who don’t want to give up having close contact with animals. One veterinarian even suggested that those pet owners who take the time and trouble to brush their dog’s teeth could even end up with an animal that has a cleaner mouth than their own. However this the same vet went on to say that even though faecal matter is sometimes consumed by dogs it’s usually swallowed and clears the mouth area quite quickly. This doesn’t sound particularly comforting or appealing!

Even though most dogs have some degree of gum disease, only around 5% will ever develop a cavity. The same can’t be said for humans as a gum disease can become a very serious condition. Regardless of whether or not you have a pet, it’s worth trying to avoid this prevalent disease. The condition affects the gum tissues and early symptoms include increased tenderness and bleeding. Regular trips to visit your dentist should help ensure any early signs are noticed quickly and acted upon.

Gum disease generally occurs due to a less than perfect oral hygiene routine, so if you develop this condition you’re probably need to pay extra attention to brushing your teeth properly and flossing more thoroughly each day. Your dentist is also likely to recommend that you have your teeth professionally cleaned to remove the buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth and gums as this irritates the gum tissue causing inflammation. It’s vital not to ignore any early signs of gum disease as this is the number one cause of tooth loss in the world.

About the author

Alison, is a UK born and educated dental professional with over 25 years experience.

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