Saturday, March 26, 2011

Role of bacteria in periodontal disease

Bacteria may be more important in the development of periodontal disease in horses than previously thought, according to research carried out at the University of Edinburgh.

Equine periodontal disease is a common condition in horses affecting around 60 percent of horses over the age of 15 years. The disease is painful and can have a big impact on a horse's quality of life, affecting the animal's ability to eat and its performance.

Bacteria are known to be a cause of periodontal disease in humans, cats and dogs, but it is less clear what role they play in the disease in horses. Mechanical factors, such as food being packed between the horse's teeth due to abnormal growth and spaces have been considered to be the primary cause.

Research, carried out by Alistair Cox, is believed to be the first to describe the microscopic anatomy of equine periodontal disease.

Cox examined the skulls of 22 horses that had been submitted for post mortem examination. Although none of the horses had received treatment for periodontal disease, 16 had some form of periodontal disease.

"This research, funded by The Horse Trust, highlights how common periodontal disease is in horses. Yet many horses don't receive treatment so are likely to be suffering in silence. I would advise all horse owners to get their vet or equine dentist to regularly check their horse to see if it is developing the condition," he said.

Cox identified bacteria, including spirochaetes, that were associated with periodontal disease. Spirochaetes are known to be important in human and canine periodontal disease, but this is the first study to identify them in association with the condition in horses.

"This study shows that bacteria may be more important than was previously thought in the development of equine periodontal disease,” said Cox

"More research is needed to understand whether bacteria or mechanical factors are the main cause of the disease. Once we have a better understanding of why and how the disease develops, we can do more to prevent horses from developing this painful condition."

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Anonymous said...

I read this article with special interest and was hoping for more information... My 22 year old TB gelding has what my dental DVM calles Periodontal Disease & has had to have his left canine extracted b/c of this. He constantly has outbreaks of white pimple-like bumps on his gums that my vet says are caused by the periodontal disease and therefore can not be cured & that eventually he will loose all of his bottom teeth to this disease. Please if there is more info / new treatment options would someone contact me? thank you!

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