Study found eating moderate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids was beneficial for patients with periodontal disease. Patients with diabetes have increased incidence and severity of periodontal disease not accounted for by differences in the subgingival microbial infection. Poor glycemic control has been consistently associated with periodontal disease severity….
Eating even moderate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, typically found in foods such as salmon and other fatty fish, may help ward off gum disease, new research suggests.
Researchers divided nearly 9,200 adults aged 20 and up participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2004 into three groups based on their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. Consumption was assessed by asking participants to recall exactly what they’d eaten during the prior 24 hours.
Dental exams showed participants in the middle and upper third for omega-3 fatty acid consumption were between 23 percent and 30 percent less likely to have gum disease than those who consumed the least amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
Specifically, the researchers found that the omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) were associated with less gum disease. The association with linolenic acid (LNA) was not statistically significant.
Senior study author Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School stated that, “Eating a very feasible amount of fatty fish seems to have a lot of benefit, but we found no benefits to eating tons of this stuff.”
Since the study was a snapshot of a single day’s diet, Mukamal said researchers could not determine exactly how much fish oil people should consume regularly. But following guidelines from major organizations such as the American Heart Association, which recommends eating fatty fish at least twice a week, is probably a good idea, not just for gum disease but for overall health, they noted.
“There are a lot of benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. We have good evidence they prevent sudden death caused by heart rhythm disturbances. We have some evidence omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke,” Mukamal said. “This is a great example of another potential benefit.”
In the study, researchers took into account other factors that could affect the likelihood of having gum disease, such as age, income, education and other health and socioeconomic factors.
In an accompanying commentary, Elizabeth Krall Kaye, a professor in the department of health policy and health services research at Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, said the study supports incorporating fatty fish into one’s diet, but not necessarily fish oil supplements. “The study is interesting in that they studied a large population, and they saw some benefit just from consuming moderate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids,” Kaye said.
Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include sardines, mackerel and swordfish, along with some nuts and seeds such as walnuts and flax seed.