We love our pets, and as we find ourselves spending more time at home these days, an upside is being able to hang out with our little (or big) furry friends. But, if you are a dog owner could your oral health be at risk? Studies indicate those sweet doggy kisses we look forward to every day might be negatively impacting our gums and teeth.
It shouldn’t come as a shock that your dog’s mouth is filthy. Whether your dog resides inside the house or outside in the yard, doggy likes to lick and eat things that we wouldn’t pick up with our bare hands, some we wouldn’t dare look at with a naked eye. And when you go to kiss your dog—or let him slobber all over you—the germs picked up from the garbage or toilet or dead bird (or other places) are then transferred over to your mouth.
Recent research shows that pets, such as dogs and cats, share the same type of bacteria as humans that causes periodontal (or gum) disease. However, despite the fact we share the same or similar oral bacteria, there is no scientific evidence showing that humans can actually develop gum disease directly from a pet. In fact, there have been certain defenses found in the mouths of humans that actually combat outside germs, such as those from dogs and cats, and prevent them from developing into gingivitis, cavities, gum disease, etc.
That said, your dog’s mouth is still disgusting and teeming with germs. Simply relying on your body’s own defense systems to keep you healthy may not be wise. According to Dr. Villamizar-Martinez, an assistant professor in dentistry and oral surgery at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, “At the end of the day, it’s unlikely that you’ll get really sick from smooching your pet. But if you want to take those slim odds down a few notches, all the experts we spoke to agree that it’s probably better to show your affection in other ways.”
What You Could Catch
The odds are slim you will get sick from kissing your pet, but there is still a chance. So what could you catch?
According to the CDC, campylobacteriosis is the most common infection given to humans from their pets. Campylobacteriosis sounds like a good time, but it is actually an infection transmitted by the stool of an animal—an animal that may or may not seem or look sick. As we all know, animals tend to lick their rear-ends causing them to pick up particles of stool into their saliva, and well…there you go.
Once this is transmitted to a human, it can cause diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain.
Giardia is another infection that can be transmitted from our pets. This is a tiny, intestinal parasite that can cause the following:
- Stomach Pain
Giardia is spread by the animal swallowing stool particles containing the parasite and passing it on to you; however, the risk of contracting this infection from your dog or cat is extremely low.
The truth is, even if you get one of these illnesses from your dog or cat, it probably won’t be serious—that is unless you have a weak immune system, in which case you should be careful how close you are getting to your pets.
Keeping Your Mouth Clean
The good news is there are ways to build up your own defenses against these nasty infections, and the best way to maintain a healthy relationship with your pet is by maintaining your own oral health. Follow these procedures and keep your mouth clean!
- Begin by brushing correctly. The best way is to brush in small, circular motions. This will keep the toothbrush bristles from pushing your gums away from your teeth, which causes irritations that can lead to any of the conditions previously listed.
- Floss every day. Flossing is incredibly important for your oral health. This keeps food from resting between your teeth, which begins to rot and aid in gum disease. Floss every morning or at night right before bed. Be sure not to jam the floss down on your gums. Use soft, clean motions, going back and forth. Hit every area between the teeth and rinse with water or mouthwash after.
- Watch your diet. Sugary drinks and foods, alcoholic beverages, even fatty meats can all have negative effects on your gums. You don’t necessarily have to cut these things out of your diet completely, but if you are the type of person who enjoys these on a regular basis, try and cut back a bit. At the very least, make sure you brush your teeth right after eating or drinking sugary or fatty substances.
South Charlotte Dentistry wants you to keep up on your oral health and show your pets the attention they need.