The omega-3 fatty acids found in many types of fish have long been praised in health circles as an aid in fighting joint pain for arthritis and autoimmune disease patients. What many people don’t realize is that the same high-density lipoprotein (HDL) found in omega-3 fatty acids and the above mentioned effects can be translated into a benefit for oral health by reducing inflammation and its direct link with many oral problems such as periodontitis and gingivitis.
How Omega Fatty Acids Work in the Human Body
Omega fatty acids transport fat molecules out of our body cells to use them as energy and maintain our metabolism. They also have a hand in reducing plaque from our arteries. According to one study published on the National Center for Biotechnolgy Information website, omega fatty acids can also be utilized to reduce and maintain low plaque levels and inflammation in the mouth associated with periodontitis. This nasty disease loosens gums and can lead to mouth wide tooth loss.
Ball and stick model of eicosapentaenoic acid (omega-3) molecule.
The study included the participation of 30 adults over a 12 week period, and the results showed a noteworthy drop in gum probing depth in patients receiving GLA (gamma-linolenic acid, AKA Omega-6) alone and a trend towards decreased probing depth in subjects receiving EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid, AKA omega-3) alone. Results were inconclusive, but hinted at the reality that consuming a balance of the omega acids can help with oral health.
“In this study, periodontitis was defined as having >4 mm pocket depth and >3 mm attachment loss in any one tooth. Individuals with the highest intakes of DHA (≥40 mg/day, approximately one to two servings of fish per week) were 22 percent less likely to develop periodontal disease compared to those with the lowest intakes,” stated an article about the same study on oralhealthgroup.com (emphasis added.)
Though the direct effect of omega acids may not be concrete, the connect to reduction in inflammation can’t be denied. A plethora of studies have concluded that all the cells from our bodies and our vasculature system greatly benefit, and even more studies have connected our oral health directly to the health of our heart due to the influence of plaque and easy access of the bloodstream through our gums. A study done by Harvard scientists have found that an increase in omega-3-rich fish consumption greatly reduces the risk of gum disease for this reason.
How to Know You’re Getting Enough Fish in Your Diet
Always consult a health care provider or dentist before making changes to your diet. Depending on your health, your doctor may recommend a different dosage. However, Mayoclinic.org recommends either 3.5 grams of fish oil per week or a 3-4 ounce serving twice weekly for healthy adults. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in the following marine sources:
Keep in mind fresh caught, un-farmed sources of these fish are best for maximum omega acid levels.
A Little about Fish Oil Supplements
If you’re not a huge fish fan, remember that capsules or fish oil can be purchased at just about every grocery story or pharmacy. It’s important to read the labels to make sure you are getting the right amount of the two main “active ingredient” fish oils eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Also consider the sources. Krill oil is more potent than fish oils, increasing the body’s omega index at twice the rate of fish oil. This is due to the fact that krill oil comes with EPA+DHA in phospholipid form, meaning it absorbs into cells and tissue differently. This is also why its price point is so high. Consider this is you are going to add omega supplements to your health regiment, and always consult a doctor or dentist before doing so.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are just one Part of the Oral Health Picture
It’s wonderful to be thinking about oral health and how you can improve it, but remember that oral health is as well rounded as most other health issues. You need many things to maintain it. Oral maintenance and regular dentist check-ups in addition to increasing your omega-3 fatty acids will make sure your mouth and body stay healthy and strong.