Posts Tagged ‘bacteria infection’

Gum Disease

Friday, August 14th, 2009

What Is Gum Disease? 

Gum disease, also known was periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues and bones surrounding and supporting the teeth.  The shallow v-shaped crevice between the tooth and the gums is called a sulcus, and gum diseases attack right below the gum line in the sulcus, where it causes the tissues to break down.  The sulcus can develop into a pocket as the tissues break down.

There are two stages.  Gingivitis is reversible and milder than the periodontitis stage, since it only affects the gums.  Gingivitis generally involves having swollen, red gums that bleed easily when one flosses/brushes.  Generally it does not cause pain.  Gingivitis can turn into periodontitis, which is a much serious and destructive version of periodontal disease.  Periodontitis involves the gums pulling away from the teeth, leaving deep pockets where the bacteria can grow and damage the bone that supports the teeth.  The gums also shrink back from the teeth, and the teeth may need to be pulled out, or may become loose and fall out. 

Gum Disease Causes

People’s mouths are always creating plaque, which is a clear and sticky substance that contains bacteria.  The bacteria contains toxins that can irritate the gums and cause gum infection.  It is necessary to remove plaque from one’s teeth regularly otherwise the plaque can spread below the gums and damage the tooth-supporting bone.  Hardened plaque is known as tartar and has to be removed by a dentist/dental hygienist. 

Here are some factors that increase the risk of gum disease occurring:

-          Chewing or smoking tobacco
-          Certain medications (Steroids, some types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives)
-          Uneven teeth
-          Bridges that do not fit properly
-          Pregnancy/hormonal changes
-          Defective fillings
-          Poor oral hygiene
-          Genetic predisposition
-          Weak immunity system, possibly caused by:
            *Excessive amounts of stress
            *Poor diet
            *Diabetes and/or other systemic diseases

Gum Disease Warning Signs

Gingivitis Symptoms

-          Gums that easily bleed
-          Tender/bright  red/swollen gums

Periodontitis Symptoms

-          Pus between teeth and gums
-          Gums pulling away from the teeth
-          Chronic bad breath/foul tastes
-          Permanent teeth that are becoming loose/separating
-          Change in the way that one’s dentures fit
-          Change in the way one’s teeth fit together when biting

How is Gum Disease Diagnosed?

An oral care expert will know to look for the following:

-          Bleeding gums
-          Plaque/tartar buildup above and below the gum line
-          Areas where the gum tissue is pulling away from the teeth
-          Growing pockets between the gums and teeth

Gum Disease Treatment

If the gum disease is mild, simply brushing, flossing, and going to the dentist regularly should be enough to get rid of it.

If the gum disease becomes worse and one has periodontitis, root planing and scaling may be in order.  This rids the mouth of plaque and tartar buildup.  Antibiotics might be recommended, and surgery could be necessary depending on how severe the disease is.

One can have periodontal disease without having any symptoms.  This makes dental visits and examinations important.  The type of treatment one should get depends on the type and severity of gum disease.  Good dental hygiene should be practiced in order to prevent the disease from occurring, becoming worse, or recurring.  Periodontal disease does not mean you will lose your teeth.  In order to maintain good oral hygiene, one should brush, floss, use mouthwash, eat a healthy diet, and schedule regular dental examinations.

Source: ADA, Web MD 

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Is Gingivitis Contagious?

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Is Gingivitis Contagious?

Gum disease / periodontal disease is a bacteria infection in the gums and bone area around your teeth.  Researchers have employed DNA techniques to track the path of infection between people.  How contagious it is depends on how susceptible a person is to getting the disease. 

Saliva contact is possible in settings like kissing, coughing, sneezing, sharing food (a cup, glass, etc.).

Studies by Canadian scientists showed that gingivitis is contagious with a transmission rate of between 30-70%.  It is believed that the periodontal bacteria can be transferred between partners during a kiss.  However, just because the bacteria is transmitted, does not mean that gum disease will occur, based on each individual’s immune systems.   It also depends on how often the person is exposed to infected saliva. 

Periodontal infections can be a serious problem because they are responsible for 75% of all adult tooth loss.  Unfortunately, peridontal disease also increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteroporosis, respiratory diseases, and pre-term low birth weight infants.

How do you avoid catching or spreading gingivitis?

  1. Complete recommended periodontal treatments.  This destroys or reduces the bacteria causing the disease.
  2. Frequent periodontal cleaning dental visits.  This reduces the risk of being re-infected.
  3. Have everyone in your family screened if there is a genetic predisposition to getting the disease.
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Bird Bad Breath

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Does Your Bird Have Bad Breath?

Thus far, our posts have mentioned dogs and cats having bad breath…but never have we discussed bad bird breath.  As someone who is a bird owner and avid bird fan, I thought it was necessary.  Birds can have bad breath!

If a bird has bad breath, that is almost always the sign of a bacteria infection, and it needs to see an avian veterinarian.  Generally, foul breath in our avian friends means that there is some abnormality in the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, or even with the oropharynx

If a bird has vitamin-A deficiency, it may be more susceptible to bacterial or yeast infections like Candida sp.  Infections like these can cause halitosis.  Also, a bird’s diet can affect its breath–so don’t give it rotten food/seed.

The bacteria that normally resides in the gastrointestinal tract (like the colon of mammals) are known as coliform bacteria.  Coliform bacteria and other bacteria are accompanied with a fecal-type odor.  If a bird is infected with one type of these bacteria, its breath (if the mouth, crop, or proventriculus has the infection) or its droppings (if the lower gastrointestinal tract has the infection) can develop a strong fecal odor.

Where Do These Bacteria Come From?

People use fertilizer frequently when growing fruits and vegetables, and this is a strong bacterial source.  Soil can also be contaminated with fecal material.  Fruits and vegetables need to be washed properly before a bird eats them, because the bird can ingest the bacteria.

Also, if a bird is in the bathroom when the toilet is flushed, the coliform bacteria can become aerosolized and breathed in by the bird.  Also, bird owners need to wash their hands after using the bathroom before handling their bird. 

Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY, formerly known as megabacteria) can be found in middle of the proventriculus and ventriculus and may also be found in other places of the gastrointestinal tract.  Unfortunately, this is hard to track in live birds, and it can be the cause of bad breath.  An ulcer in the crop, proventriculus or ventriculus that has been contaminated by bacteria can also cause bad breath.

Other Bad Breath Causes

Other gastrointestinal issues can cause halitosis, like Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD).  Spirochetes, an unusual type of organism, might cause halitosis, especially in lovebirds.  Both benign and malignant tumors in the gastrointestinal tract can also cause bad breath, especially if they erode or cause ulceration into the GI tract.  These can be diagnosed by a combination of blood work, X-rays, endoscopy, or ultrasound.  Within the GI tract, protozoal infections (i.e. trichomoniasis in the oropharynx, giardia) can be hard to diagnose and may cause bad breath.  Most protozoal infections can be treated with ronidazole. 

Treatment Plan

According to many avian vets, vinegar can by used to help acidify the interior of the proventriculus and ventriculus as well as treat many diseases, mostly in the GI tract.

If your bird has bad breath and any other symptoms, bring it to a vet and have a physical exam and work-up done.  These include: complete blood count; plasma chemistry panel; Gram’s stains of the choana, crop, and cloaca; bacterial and fungal cultures; appropriate serological tests; full-body X-rays and maybe an endoscopy.

Depending on what your avian veterinarian tells you, you can suggest a consultation with a board-certified avian specialist (some veterinary labs will offer this).  If your vet is not experienced enough, you can have them refer you to a referral center or avian specialist. 

Unlike pet mammals and humans, birds do not have teeth (aside from the single egg tooth that is not made of the structures in a mammalian tooth), meaning that the cause of bad breath in birds cannot be attributed to dental and gum disease (usually caused by a bacteria infection).  However, bacterial infections concerning the bird’s gastrointestinal tract or lungs can cause bad breath and impact its health. 

Source: Bird Channel

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