PUFAs may improve oral health

by Keith Nunes
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BOSTON — Polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as the types found in fish oil and nuts and have anti-inflammatory properties, may have a beneficial effect in the treatment and prevention of periodontitis, a common type of gum disease in which the gum tissue separates from the teeth and allows bacteria to build up, according to a study published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

“We found that n-3 fatty acid intake, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are inversely associated with periodontitis in the U.S. population,” said Asghar Z. Naqvi, of the Department of Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “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 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, including stroke as well.”

Date used to conduct the study came from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The study involved more than 9,000 adults who participated in NHANES between 1999 and 2004 who had received dental examinations.

The researchers found that dietary intake of the PUFAs DHA and EPA were associated with a decreased prevalence of periodontitis. The prevalence of periodontitis in the study sample was 8.2%. There was an approximately 20% reduction in periodontitis prevalence in those subjects who consumed the highest amount of dietary DHA. The reduction correlated with EPA was smaller.

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