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It should come as no surprise to find that what we put in our mouths can affect the health of our mouths, as well as the rest of our bodies. A new study highlights this truth, finding that people who eat a diet rich in omega-3 fats from fish have less gum disease than people who don’t.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, used data from a large ongoing survey called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). It included information gathered from the dental examinations of over 9,000 participants.
The researchers found that eating a diet that provides polyunsaturated fatty acids had an impact on gum (periodontal) health:
A commentary published in the same issue points out three major findings of the study:
It may be no coincidence that omega-3 fatty acids from fish have now been found to benefit both gums and heart, since maintaining healthy gums is one of the keys to general health. Researchers have found that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without gum disease, and some studies indicate that there might be a relationship between gum disease and stroke.
“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 cardiovascular disease,” commented lead study author Asghar Naqvi, MPH, MNS, of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
The results of this study suggest that you can easily eat enough omega-3 fats to avoid gum disease:
(J Am Diet Assoc 2010;110:1669–75)