Yuma, Arizona (NAPSI) - Here’s a health idea you can sink your teeth into: Leading physicians and veterinarians say dental health is important for people and animals. Gum disease has been linked to such illnesses as heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Another connection is that oral health is sometimes overlooked in both, explains Thomas G. Nemetz, DVM, Ph.D., an Adjunct Professor at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, where he coordinates and teaches twice-yearly dental courses to third-year veterinary students.

“As you begin taking care of a pet’s oral condition, his or her health drastically improves,” he said. “In the last 20 years, we have been doing a better job at keeping the oral cavity healthy—in both pets and humans. Our pets are living longer, as are we, in part because of good preventative dental care.”

Dr. Nemetz advised having oral health exams as part of routine office visits to cut down on periodontal diseases. According to Dr. Nemetz, about 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats develop periodontal disease, requiring treatment by 3 years of age.

Learn more at www.sgu.edu/school-of-veterinary-medicine/index.html. From exotic to small animals, orthopedics to ophthalmology, St. George’sUniversity’s School of Veterinary Medicine prepares students for a world of global health care.