This Fat Found in Fish Oil Can Improve Your Gum Health
A study conducted by scientists at Harvard shows that adding extra DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) omega-3, which can be found in fish oil, can help improve outcomes in individuals suffering from periodontitis, an infection that erodes soft tissue in the gums and the bone that supports teeth. An estimated 30-50% of the population of the US has periodontitis, making it one of the most common diseases in the country.
The study was published in the Journal of Dental Research. The scientists found that individuals with periodontitis who supplemented with extra DHA, pockets under the gums decreased in size, the gingival index, used to measure the extent of disease, was lower, and markers of inflammation in the gums were reduced.
The double-blind, placebo controlled trial involved 55 adult volunteers with moderate periodontitis. The volunteers were randomly divided into two groups. For three months, one group received 2,000 mg per day of DHA, while the other group received a placebo. Both groups also took 81 mg aspirin per day.
As the end of the study, 46 volunteers had completed the trial. Those who were in the DHA group increased their levels of DHA in the membranes of their red blood cells by 3.6-6.2%. The placebo group showed no increase. Besides the decrease in pocket depth, researchers found that certain inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-1 beta (IL-1beta), were significantly lower in the DHA group, but systemic CRP levels did not change significantly in either group.
“In this randomized controlled trial, aspirin-triggered DHA supplementation significantly improved periodontal outcomes in people with periodontitis, indicating its potential therapeutic efficacy,” Dr. Asghar Naqvi, lead author on the study.
This is not the first study to link omega-3 fatty acids to possible health benefits. The known anti-inflammatory properties of DHA have been linked to a possible decrease in dental disease.
Possibly the first longitudinal study that investigated the link between DHA and periodontal disease in older people was conducted by Japanese researchers. They found that people with low levels of DHA were 1.5 times more likely to suffer from dental disease than those with higher levels (Nutrition, 2010, Vol. 26, pp. 1105-1109).
Another study was conducted by Dr. Brad Huang and Dr. Jeff Ebersole from the Center for Oral Health Research at University of Kentucky’s College of Dentistry. This study investigated DHA’s antibacterial properties against oral pathogens. This study was published in Molecular Oral Microbiology (Vol. 25, pp. 75-80). This study found that DHA, along with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and alpha-linolenic acid (AHA) could all block oral pathogens such as Streptococcus mutans, Candida albicans, and Porphyromonas ginigivalis, and that they were effective at relatively low doses.
Dr. Huang has said that the antibacterial properties of omega-3 could be quite important, though largely ignored to date.
Source: Journal of Dental Research