The link between periodontitis or inflammation of tissue around the teeth and risk for heart problems can be cause for concern.
Dr. Alison Coates, PhD, a senior lecturer at the University of South Australia, and researchers from the School of Dentistry at the University of Adelaide in Australia have been studying the possible benefits of fish oil for treatment of periodontitis.
At one time, bacteria that caused gingivitis was the main focus for researchers for dental and oral health.
It has been discovered though that inflammation is a major force for the occurrence of periodontitis. As the body tries to eliminate the bacteria, it also ends up doing damage to its own tissue.
Low-grade inflammation plays a role in periodontitis, according to Coates. Fish oil can be used to treat inflammation.
Inflammation is suppressed by resolvins (metabolites in omega-3 fatty acids). Resolvins also benefit arthritis and cardiovascular health.
It is speculated that aspirin may influence metabolization of omega-3 fatty acids, and may cause a different quality or quantity of resolvins.
In a study that was published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2010, it was found that people were two-thirds as likely to have periodontitis when they took in a type of omega-3 fatty acids called docosahexaenoic acid.
In four clinical trials, periodontitis was seen to improve, though significant results were found in only the two studies with fish oil and aspirin.
Other research indicated that diets containing plenty of fish, or sufficient omega-3 fatty acids, were linked with less risk for periodontitis.
Coates indicated that long chain omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for general good health. She recommended supplementation of 500 mg, or the equivalent of two meals of fatty fish each week.
Coates cautioned that those who are on blood thinners should communicate this to their doctors as omega-3 supplementation above 3 grams daily is contraindicated.
The government of Australia now considers omega-3 fatty acids to be essential to the diet. The recommendation is 430 mg long chain omega-3 fatty acids daily for women. For men, the recommendation is 610 mg per day.
Dr. Van Dyke, DDS, PhD, vice president for clinical and translational research at the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, represented the U.S. view which sees the omega-3 fatty acids benefit against periodontitis as being less significant.
Taking fish oil long term can make a person less susceptible to disease, but it doesn’t cure it, he said.
Research results were unveiled at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in San Diego, California on April 24, 2012.