Omega-3 Fatty Acids Support Gum Health

According to a new study, the omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid may play an important role in gum health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that most American adults show some signs or symptoms of poor oral health. Symptoms that suggest poor oral health include bleeding or redness of the gums, discomfort, tooth decay or loss of teeth.

In this new study, researchers investigated the potential association between intake of omega-3 fatty acids and gum health. The subjects included 9,182 adults age 20 years or older from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The subjects underwent a dental exam to evaluate the health of the gums. Gum health was evaluated by measuring pocket depth (the space between the tooth and the gums). Measurements of greater than 4 mm deep or attachment loss of greater than 3 mm in any one tooth was defined as inoptimal. The subjects were also evaluated for dietary omega-3 fatty acid intake over the previous 24 hours.

The results of the study showed that higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids was associated with better oral health. More specifically, the subjects with the highest intake of DHA had a 22 percent decreased risk of poor gum health compared to the subjects with the lowest intake. Similarly, the subjects with the highest intake of EPA showed a decreased risk of gum problems by 15 percent and those with the highest intake of alpha-linolenic acid showed a 14 percent decreased risk.

The researchers concluded that in this nationally representative sample, increased intake of DHA, and to a lesser extent EPA, was associated with healthier gums.

by VRP Staff


Naqvi AZ, Buettner C, Phillips RS, Davis RB, Mukamal KJ. n-3 Fatty Acids and Periodontitis in US Adults. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Nov; 110(11): 1669-75.

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