When you go to the dentist for your twice-yearly checkup, your dental office typically gifts you a new toothbrush and a box of dental floss. They might want to throw an omega-3 supplement into the bag too. According to a study published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, omega-3 fatty acids may help maintain gum health.*[i]
Keeping your gums healthy has wide-ranging health implications. Good gum health goes hand in hand with good dental health, and healthy gums can even help your heart.
For the study, data was gathered from 9,182 people who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2004. Researchers analyzed participants’ omega-3 fatty acid levels and their gum health, and they found that folks who were in the top third for omega-3 status enjoyed better gum health than those in the bottom third.* The results reinforced those of an earlier, laboratory study published in the journal Molecular Oral Microbiology, which suggested EPA, DHA, and ALA could have gum health benefits.*[ii]
Another piece of good news is that it’s not necessary to consume massive amounts of omega-3-rich foods or supplements to reap gum health benefits.* Professor Elizabeth Krall Kaye of Boston University said “modest levels of omega-3 fatty acid intake” could help protect gum health.* Foods that contain EPA, DHA, and ALA include cold-water fatty fish (such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and tuna), seaweed, flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts. You can also take a fish oil or flaxseed omega-3 supplement.
Other ways to keep your gums healthy? Brush twice a day, floss once a day, visit your dentist regularly, and if you smoke, try to quit. (Smoking suppresses your ability to fight infection, thus increasing your chances of gum disease.)
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease.
[i] Naqvi A, et al. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Nov;110(11):1669-75.
[ii] Huang CB, Ebersole JL. Mol Oral Microbiol. 2010 Feb;25(1):75-80.