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J Vet Dent. 2008 Jun;25(2):97-105.

Periodontal disease burden and pathological changes in organs of dogs.

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  • 1Veterinary Faculty, Clinic for Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.


Bacterial plaque associated periodontal disease is the most common chronic infection in man and dogs. In man, there is an association between periodontal disease and myocardial infarction and stroke, while in dogs it has also been associated with changes in internal organs. Inflamed periodontal tissues present a 'periodontal disease burden' to the host and the extent of this inflammatory disease burden is likely to affect the degree of associated pathological change in distant organs. This hypothesis was investigated in dogs with naturally occurring periodontal disease. Post-mortem investigations including periodontal assessment, standard necropsy, and organ histology were performed on 44 mature toy and miniature Poodles (related, periodontitis predisposed breeds) that died naturally or were euthanized based on clinical disease. Animals with gross primary organ pathology were excluded. The periodontal disease burden was estimated from the total surface area of periodontal pocket epithelium using six measurements of probing depth for each tooth and the tooth circumferences. Ordinal logistic regression (OR) analysis established that for each square centimeter of periodontal disease burden there was a 1.4-times higher likelihood of greater changes being present in the left atrio-ventricular valves (OR = 1.43), plus 1.2 and 1.4 times higher likelihoodfor greater liver and kidney pathology (OR = 1.21; OR = 1.42), respectively The results show that there is a link between the estimated 'periodontal disease burden' resulting from plaque-bacteria associated periodontal disease and the level of internal pathology in this population, implying that periodontitis might contribute to the development of systemic pathology in dogs.

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