Greater Omega 3 Fatty Acid Intake Linked With Lower Risk Of Periodontitis

Life Extension Featured Article

October 29, 2010

Greater omega-3 fatty acid intake linked with lower risk of periodontitis

Greater omega-3 fatty acid intake linked with lower risk of periodontitis

An article published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reports that periodontitis, a disease characterized by inflammation of the gums and the development of pockets between the teeth and gums that can lead to tooth loss, is less prevalent among those with a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids include eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, and are often reduced in the average Western diet in comparison with omega-6 fatty acids.

Asghar Z. Naqvi, MPH, MNS of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and colleagues from Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health evaluated data from 9,182 men and women who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 1999 and 2004. Dental examinations determined the presence of periodontitis, and dietary questionnaire and interview responses were assessed for the intake of EPA, DHA and linolenic acid from food and supplements.

Periodontitis was detected in 8.2 percent of the subjects. Among those whose intake of DHA from diet and supplements was among the top one-third of participants, there was a 20 percent lower risk of the disease compared with those whose intake was among the lowest third. For subjects in the top third of EPA intake, the risk averaged 15 percent lower. No statistically significant association was observed between periodontitis and linolenic acid.

"We found that omega-3 fatty acid intake, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are inversely associated with periodontitis in the US population," Dr Naqvi concluded. "To date, the treatment of periodontitis has primarily involved mechanical cleaning and local antibiotic application. Thus, a dietary therapy, if effective, might be a less expensive and safer method for the prevention and treatment of periodontitis. Given the evidence indicating a role for omega-3 fatty acids in other chronic inflammatory conditions, it is possible that treating periodontitis with omega-3 fatty acids could have the added benefit of preventing other chronic diseases associated with inflammation, including stroke as well."

In an accompanying editorial, Elizabeth Krall Kaye, PhD of Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine notes that prior to the current research few studies had evaluated the effect of omega-3 or omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids on periodontal disease. "The strength of the association provides compelling grounds for future longitudinal studies and clinical trials to define optimal intake levels and omega-3 sources for the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease," she writes. "Future studies should also investigate how periodontal disease and systemic inflammatory diseases interact with respect to omega-3 requirements so that a unified set of dietary recommendations can be developed that ensure benefits for the largest possible segment of the population."

Printer Friendly Save as PDF Email this Page View Archive Subscribe Today
Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Periodontitis and cavities

Periodontal diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis, are inflammatory diseases that affect the supporting structures that anchor the teeth in place (periodontium). Gingivitis and periodontitis are related conditions: if left untreated, gingivitis, or inflammation of the gingival tissue (gums), can progress to periodontitis, a more serious condition.

During periodontitis, the healthy gum tissue is transformed from pink and firm, with knife-edge margins between the soft tissue and the tooth, to inflamed and red. Eventually, the tissue pulls away from the tooth, allowing pockets to form. These pockets can be measured with a special probe during a standard dental check-up. Any pocket over 3 millimeters in depth signifies gingivitis; a pocket over 5 millimeters usually signifies periodontitis.

Because of the association between gum disease and systemic inflammation, researchers have begun looking at anti-inflammatory nutrients in the context of gum disease. In one study, 30 adults with gum disease were given a variety of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil (up to 3000 mg daily) and omega-6 fatty acids from borage oil (up to 3000 mg daily). At the end of the study, clinically significant improvements were measured in both gingival inflammation and the depth of gum pockets (Rosenstein ED et al 2003). Another preliminary human study found that omega-3 fatty acids tended to reduce inflammation, but called for more thorough research (Campan P et al 1997). However, in light of the established connection between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and inflammation, and the fatty acids' lack of side effects, it is reasonable for people with gum disease to consider using these supplements. Other anti-inflammatory supplements include ginger and curcumin, though neither of these has been studied in the context of inflammatory gum disease.

Life Extension Fitness Magazine premiere issue now online!

Life Extension Fitness magazine

No other publication uncovers more scientific findings about anti-aging and disease prevention than Life Extension Magazine®.

What is not extensively covered is hard core data about fitness, a topic many Life Extension members prioritize.

To remedy this deficiency, we’ve created Life Extension® Fitness — an entirely new magazine that discusses celebrity wellness profiles, professional regimens, fitness tips, and user-friendly science that emphasizes functional strength and physical well-being.

Just click here to read Life Extension® Fitness cover to cover. It’s fun, fast, informative … a whole new take on the science of fitness based on Life Extension’s exacting scientific criteria.

Featured Products

Optimized Resveratrol with Synergistic Grape-Berry Actives

add to cart

Findings from published scientific literature indicate that resveratrol may be the most effective plant extract for maintaining optimal health and promoting longevity. Resveratrol is a phytoalexin, a natural plant antibiotic which is produced by Vitis vinifera in response to attack by molds.

Life Extension's Optimized Resveratrol now features fisetin, a little-known flavonoid which is the sixth compound shown to simulate a similar youthful gene expression pattern as calorie restriction—without significant dietary modification. In the most exciting development to date, this novel compound (fisetin) may also enhance the effects of resveratrol.

Most abundant in strawberries, fisetin has the power to “switch on” powerful cell signaling molecules that support youthful gene expression, DNA protection, and healthy cellular function.

Soy Protein Concentrate

add to cart

Soy protein and isoflavones (phytoestrogens) have gained considerable attention for their potential role in promoting cardiovascular health. Clinical trials and animal studies showed that ingestion of soy proteins helps maintain healthy blood lipid profiles, including helping maintain triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol levels already within normal range.

Soy Protein Concentrate provides a very economical concentrated source of soy protein for those who wish to augment their food protein with this convenient supplement. Twenty-five grams of soy protein per day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.

News Archive

Life Extension Update

What's Hot

Life Extension Magazine®

If you have questions or comments concerning this issue or past issues of Life Extension Update, send them to or call 1-800-678-8989.
Sign up for Life Extension Update

For Customer Service inquiries, please email or call 1 800 678 8989.

For copyright permission, please refer to Life Extension copyright policy.