Presently, there is an abundance of scientific literature on the positive health benefits resulting from regular supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids. Among the benefits previously noted are: reductions in cholesterol, high blood pressure, decreased risk of stroke, and cardiovascular disease. What is not often studied are potential correlations between omega-3s and dental health.
Attempting to bridge this gap in the literature, Japanese researchers recently set out to explore the relationship between oral health conditions and omega-3 supplements in mature adults. The researchers were particularly interested in periodontal diseases, or those affecting the tissue and bones surrounding the teeth.
The first known longitudinal study of its kind was led by Masanori Iwasaki from Niigata University. The five year study was comprised of participants with an average age of 74 (n=55). Their omega-3 consumption was recorded and classified as long-chain fatty acids, either EPA or DHA. The participant’s average consumption for EPA and DHA were 947.1 and 635.2 milligrams, respectively.
At the study’s conclusion, each participant reported having roughly 8 oral disease occurrences. Here is what is really interesting, the researchers found that “People with low DHA intake had an approximately 1.5 times higher incidence rate ratio of periodontal disease progression”. These findings suggest an inverse statistical correlation between DHA and dental health.
Iwasaki and his fellow researchers have speculated that the reason for their findings may lie in omega-3s well established reputation for lessening inflammation responses in the body. Elaborating on this idea, the researches noted that “in periodontal diseases, bacteria trigger inflammatory host responses that cause destruction of the alveolar bone and periodontal connective tissue”, and additionally, “according to previous reports, DHA and EPA inhibit arachidonic acid (AA) metabolism to inflammatory eicosanoids. They also give rise to mediators that are less inflammatory than those produced from AA or that are anti-inflammatory”.
While these new findings provide much needed insight into the relationship between omega-3s and dental health, even more is needed to investigate the role of DHA. It would also be interesting to see if these relationships are identical in children.