A new study has found that dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) like fish oil, known to have anti-inflammatory properties, shows promise for the effective treatment and prevention of periodontitis, a common inflammatory disease in which gum tissue separates from teeth.
Although traditional treatments concentrate on the bacterial infection, more recent strategies target the inflammatory response.
"We found that n-3 fatty acid intake, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are inversely associated with periodontitis in the US population," commented Asghar Z. Naqvi, Department of Medicine, 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," he added.
The study involved over 9,000 adults who received dental examinations and also collected extensive demographic, ethnic, educational and socioeconomic data, allowing the researchers to take other factors into consideration that might obscure the results.
The prevalence of periodontitis in the study sample was 8.2% and there was an approximately 20% reduction in periodontitis prevalence in those subjects who consumed the highest amount of dietary DHA.
Foods that contain significant amounts of polyunsaturated fats include fatty fish like salmon, peanut butter, margarine, and nuts.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.