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Omega-3s May Help Deter (and Cure) Gum Disease
11/1/2010
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by Craig Weatherby


Seafood, it seems, may be very good for our gums.
 
Animal studies show clear benefits, and according to an analysis of U.S. health data, people who consume more omega-3 fatty acids enjoy lower rates of inflammatory gum disease (periodontitis).
 
In particular, the study linked moderate intake of fish-derived omega-3 DHA to a 20 percent reduced rate of periodontitis.
 
Periodontitis is a common, chronic inflammatory disease characterized by gum tissue separation from the tooththe so-called periodontal “pockets” that can lead to bone and tooth loss.
 
Traditional therapies focus on fighting the initial bacterial infection and removing diseased tissue.
 
But more recent therapies target the body’s excessive, prolonged inflammatory response to the infection, which is thought to play an important role in the progress of periodontitis.
 
As the researchersled by Dr. Asghar Naqvi of Harvard Medical Schoolwrote, “To date, the treatment of periodontitis has primarily involved mechanical cleaning and local antibiotic application. Thus, a dietary therapy [such as omega-3s], if effective, might be a less expensive and safer method for the prevention and treatment of periodontitis.”
 
And they added an important note about dosing: “Our results also suggest that DHA ([taken in] doses recommended by the American Heart Association…) may be as or more potent in influencing periodontitis.”
 
The daily dose of EPA+DHA recommended by the AHA is 500 mg, which is easily achievable by eating fatty fish or taking fish oil capsules.
 
Omega-3 gum benefits seen in mice
A number of studies in rodents show that omega-3s exert anti-inflammatory effects on gum disease, reduce inflammation-associated bone loss in the jaw, and generally aid the healing process (Vardar S et al. 2004; Kesavalu L et al. 207; Vardar-Sengul S et al. 2008; El-Sharkawy H et al. 2010).
 
Taking things to a higher level, a rodent study published last year detected possible anti-bacterial effects of omega-3s, extending their gum-protecting potential beyond inflammation control (Bendyk A et al. 2009).
 
And earlier this year, researchers from the University of Kentucky confirmed those indications when they found that relatively low doses of omega-3 EPA and DHA inhibited the growth of bacteria that cause gum disease (Huang CB, Ebersole JL 2010).
 
The Kentucky team also found benefits when mice were fed the plant-source omega-3 ALA found in walnuts, flax, canola oil, and leafy cooking greens.
 
That study was the first to clearly demonstrate that omega-3s probably exert an anti-bacterial effect against oral pathogens.
 
New analysis links omega-3s to reduced gum risk in people
Dr Naqvi and his colleagues studied data from 9,182 adults aged 20 years and older who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2004.
 
They found that the rate of gum disease was 20 percent lower in the people who reported consuming the most dietary DHA… with those omega-3 DHA intakes being estimated from their reported consumption of seafood and omega-3 supplements.
 
The risk reduction associated with omega-3 EPA was smaller but still significant, while no statistically significant disease-risk reduction was found in relation to the omega-6 fatty acid (LA) that dominates the American diet.
 
In an accompanying commentary, Prof. Elizabeth Krall Kaye of Boston University said that the findings “…of a protective association between higher intakes of omega-3 fatty acids and periodontal disease are well-founded” (Kaye EK 2010).
 
She stated that the significantly reduced odds of periodontal disease were observed at relatively modest intakes of DHA and EPA, and the suggestion of a minimum effective dose was particularly noteworthy.
 
“These findings are encouraging in that they suggest it may be possible to attain clinically meaningful benefits for periodontal disease at modest levels of omega-3 fatty acid intakes from foods,” added Professor Kaye.
 
The authors noted that the nature of their study only permits the detection of associations, and not a cause-effect relationship.
 
But, as they wrote, “Given the evidence indicating a role for n-3 fatty acids in other chronic inflammatory conditions, it is possible that treating periodontitis with n-3 fatty acids could have the added benefit of preventing other chronic diseases associated with inflammation,” stated the researchers.
 
They added that clinical studies are needed to confirm the potential protective effects of omega-3 DHA and EPA on periodontitis.
 
 
Sources
  • Bendyk A, Marino V, Zilm PS, Howe P, Bartold PM. Effect of dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on experimental periodontitis in the mouse. J Periodontal Res. 2009 Apr;44(2):211-6. Epub 2009 Feb 6.
  • El-Sharkawy H, Aboelsaad N, Eliwa M, Darweesh M, Alshahat M, Kantarci A, Hasturk H, Van Dyke TE. Adjunctive Treatment of Chronic Periodontitis with Daily Dietary Supplementation with Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Low-Dose Aspirin. J Periodontol. 2010 Jun 23. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Hasturk H, Kantarci A, Goguet-Surmenian E, Blackwood A, Andry C, Serhan CN, Van Dyke TE. Resolvin E1 regulates inflammation at the cellular and tissue level and restores tissue homeostasis in vivo. J Immunol. 2007 Nov 15;179(10):7021-9.
  • Hasturk H, Kantarci A, Ohira T, Arita M, Ebrahimi N, Chiang N, Petasis NA, Levy BD, Serhan CN, Van Dyke TE. RvE1 protects from local inflammation and osteoclast- mediated bone destruction in periodontitis. FASEB J. 2006 Feb;20(2):401-3. Epub 2005 Dec 22.
  • Huang CB, Ebersole JL. A novel bioactivity of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and their ester derivatives. Mol Oral Microbiol. 2010 Feb;25(1):75-80.
  • Kaye EK. n-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Periodontal Disease. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Nov. Volume 110, Issue 11, pages 1650-1652. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.08.017
  • Kesavalu L, Bakthavatchalu V, Rahman MM, Su J, Raghu B, Dawson D, Fernandes G, Ebersole JL. Omega-3 fatty acid regulates inflammatory cytokine/mediator messenger RNA expression in Porphyromonas gingivalis-induced experimental periodontal disease. Oral Microbiol Immunol. 2007 Aug;22(4):232-9.
  • Naqvi AZ et al. n-3 Fatty Acids and Periodontitis in US Adults. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Nov. Volume 110, Issue 11, Pages 1669-1675. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.08.009
  • Van Dyke TE. The management of inflammation in periodontal disease. J Periodontol. 2008 Aug;79(8 Suppl):1601-8. Review.
  • Vardar S, Buduneli E, Baylas H, Berdeli AH, Buduneli N, Atilla G. Individual and combined effects of selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor and omega-3 fatty acid on endotoxin-induced periodontitis in rats. J Periodontol. 2005 Jan;76(1):99-106
  • Vardar S, Buduneli E, Türkoğlu O, Berdeli AH, Baylas H, Başkesen A, Atilla G. Therapeutic versus prophylactic plus therapeutic administration of omega-3 fatty acid on endotoxin-induced periodontitis in rats. J Periodontol. 2004 Dec;75(12):1640-6.
  • Vardar-Sengul S, Buduneli E, Turkoglu O, Buduneli N, Atilla G, Wahlgren J, Sorsa T, Baylas H. The effects of selective COX-2 inhibitor/celecoxib and omega-3 fatty acid on matrix metalloproteinases, TIMP-1, and laminin-5gamma2-chain immunolocalization in experimental periodontitis. J Periodontol. 2008 Oct;79(10):1934-41.

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