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Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce risk of dental disease

January 28, 2010

Increased levels of omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid may decrease the risk of dental diseases, suggests a new study.

In the study, the dietary intakes of the essential fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) were calculated in 55 people with an average age of 74 (1). Over the course of five years, the average number of dental disease events was documented. The average dietary intakes of EPA and DHA were 947.1 and 635.2 milligrams, respectively, and the participants experienced an average of 7.8 periodontal disease events. The results showed that people with low DHA intake had an approximately 1.5 times higher incidence rate ratio of periodontal disease progression.

In addition to being a major risk factor for tooth loss, periodontal disease has also been implicated as a risk factor for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Since the condition may contribute to the overall inflammatory burden of an individual there are reports that this may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The heart health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are well-documented since the early 1970s. To date, the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been linked to improvements in blood lipid levels, a reduced tendency of thrombosis, blood pressure and heart rate improvements, and improved vascular function. However, links to dental health are not well documented.

Commenting on the potential mechanism, the researchers noted that it is probably related the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids.

References

  1. Iwasaki M. et al. Longitudinal relationship between dietary omega-3 fatty acids and periodontal disease. Nutrition. January 2010.