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Dental changes are one of the main reasons for slaughtering sheep early before the end of their regular breeding period, resulting in increased costs due to the need to purchase new animals for the flock. Within this context, excessive dental wear and periodontal disease are key disorders affecting sheep teeth and bearing structures (West and Spence 2000). Periodontitis manifests as gingivitis, periodontal pocket formation, gingival recession, bleeding on probing, suppuration, food debris retention, teeth loosening and loss of teeth. Studies have reported similarities between oral microflora in sheep and human periodontitis (Frisken and others 1989, Ismaiel and others 1989, McCourtie and others 1990). Riggio and others (2013) demonstrated the prevalence of Mannheimia ruminalis and Moraxella caprae in sheep with broken mouth periodontitis. Among the microorganisms considered periodontopathogenic, those belonging to Socransky's red complex (Porphyromonas gingivalis, Tannerella forsythia and Treponema denticola) are of recognised importance in several forms of periodontitis in humans and a few other animal species (Hardham and others 2005, Booij-Vrieling and others 2010, Yamasaki and others 2012). In advanced cases of periodontitis, spirochaetes may comprise more than 50 per cent of the subgingival microflora (Chu and Holt 1994), enabling their adherence to skin cells and, consequently, …
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