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New research has shown that people who kiss their dogs or allow them to lick their mouths are at risk of catching gum disease and may subsequently suffer tooth loss as the bacteria passes from the pet to the owner and infects the gums. Without proper treatment, gum disease can cause the supporting tissue to fail and the teeth to loosen in the sockets, before eventually falling out completely.
A large percentage of dogs suffer from periodontitis (gum disease) and the harmful microbe that causes this condition was found to be present in 16% of owners tested – even though it should not naturally be part of a human beings system, suggesting that close-contact relationships between owner and pet were to blame. According to the new research, even low-level contact can still result in transmission that could put the owner’s oral health at risk.
Dr Paul Maza of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University explained that cleaning the dogs teeth could help lower the chances of transmission; ‘Many of the different types of bacteria in dogs and cats are the same type of bacteria as in humans. If owners practice oral hygiene on their pets, such as brushing their teeth, a pet’s mouth can actually be even cleaner than a human mouth.’
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