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PERIODONTITIS is a multifactorial infection elicited by a complex of bacterial species that interact with host tissues and cells causing the release of a broad array of inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and mediators, some of which lead to destruction of the periodontal structures, including the tooth supporting tissues, alveolar bone and periodontal ligament (Holt and Ebersole 2005). Although cattle are of worldwide economic importance in the dairy and beef industries, their dentition has not been investigated as thoroughly as that of other species. Cattle are diphyodont and hypsodont, and their permanent dentition has 32 teeth. The permanent incisors erupt sequentially between 1.5 and 4 years of age. All permanent premolars and the second and third molars erupt between one and three years of age (Page and Schroeder 1982).
The importance of bovine periodontal disease has largely been overlooked by veterinarians and scientists. In Brazil, periodontal disease affects cattle kept in areas where grazing has been recently formed or reformed in the Atlantic Forest, Cerrado, Pantanal and Amazon biomes (Döbereiner and others 2000). The disease is characterised by a purulent, progressive periodontitis, with periodontal pocket formation, development of a chronic periostitis ossificans and, in some cases, systemic illness. The tooth roots become exposed with eventual loss of teeth (Döbereiner and others 1974). Reported studies in the UK are scarce. Of 501 heads of cows examined …