Why a smooch with your pooch could make your teeth fall out! Pet owners warned that dogs can pass on gum disease

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UPDATED:

10:09 GMT, 11 October 2012

They say a dog is a man’s best friend – but being overly affectionate with your pet could be bad for your health.

Dog owners who kiss their pets – or let them lick their mouths – could catch gum disease from their pets, experts have warned.

This is because exchanging a smooch could cause a harmful swap of dangerous mouth bacteria.

Hold the smooch! Kissing your dog could lead to harmful swap of dangerous mouth bacteria, leading to gum decay and tooth loss

Hold the smooch! Kissing your dog could lead to harmful swap of dangerous mouth bacteria, leading to gum decay and tooth loss

Left untreated, gum disease can turn into periodontitis, an inflammatory
disease of the mouth tissue, according to report in the Archives of Oral
Biology.

Periodontitis is a
severe form of gum disease that affects the tissues that support teeth
and hold them in place.

If left untreated, the jaw bone can decay and small
spaces can open up between the gum and teeth. The teeth may become
loose and eventually fall out.

Most dogs suffer from periodontitis, though only
about 5 per cent will ever develop a cavity.

The warning follows research last year which
examined the dental health of dog owners in Japan.

Scale and polish: A potentially harmful microbe normally found in dogs, but not humans, was discovered in many pet owners, but regular teeth cleaning can help

Scale and polish: A potentially harmful microbe normally found in dogs, but not humans, was discovered in many pet owners, but regular teeth cleaning can help

A potentially harmful oral microbe normally found in
dogs, but not in humans, was discovered it in 16 per cent of owners – usually
those who had a close-contact relationships with their dogs.

But germs were also passed from master to pet.

The researchers found ten human periodontitis-related
bacteria in their pets. Even low-levels of contact could result in
transmission.

However the risk of cross-contamination may depend on the
teeth-cleaning habits of both man and dog, Dr Paul
Maza, of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, told
America’s Fox News.

‘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.’

He added that although
the grooming technique of pets can cause faecal bacteria in the mouth, it is
often swallowed and out of the mouth quickly.

Those who should definitely think about avoiding a kiss include those with a compromised immune
system and the elderly.