Dietary intake of the omega-3 fatty acids may be associated with a decreased prevalence of periodontitis of up to 20 percent, a new US study suggests.
The observational trial analyzed data from over 9,000 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2004 (1). The researchers found a reduction of approximately 20 percent in periodontitis prevalence in people consuming the largest amounts of dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The same but smaller effect was observed for a moderate dietary intake of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
The researchers commented that DHA in doses recommended by the American Heart Association may be as or more potent in influencing periodontitis than treatment by mechanical cleaning and local application of antibiotics. The study indicates an anti-inflammatory potential of the fatty acids for reducing the risk of periodontitis. Treating the gum disease with essential fatty acids could have the added benefit of preventing other chronic diseases associated with inflammation. However, randomized controlled trials would be needed to confirm the potential protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids on periodontitis, they concluded.
Periodontitis is a common, chronic inflammatory disease that is characterized by gum tissue separation from the tooth, forming a periodontal pocket that can lead to bone and tooth loss.