We know how daily flossing, brushing and regular dental check-ups promote dental health and hygiene, but did you know that one of the most important factors to keep your gums healthy has nothing to do with these habits? One critical factor is your diet.
Other than calcium, Vitamin D and phosphorus, Omega-3 fatty acid has been found to have promising effects on gum health.
What is Omega-3 Fatty Acid?
Polyunsaturated fat is divided into two essential fatty acids – alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid (LA), and they’re called Omega-3 and Omega-6 respectively. Both are identified as essential fatty acids since they can’t be manufactured by the body, and thus, should be sourced from diet. LA is quite abundant in most vegetable oils, such as olive and canola oil. ALA can be sourced from nuts, flaxseed and soy products.
When consumed, LA or Omega-6 fat gets converted to Arachidonic acid (AA) while ALA or Omega-3 fat is converted to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Unfortunately, conversion of EPA and DHA is quite low. This is the reason why experts suggest consuming fish, fish oil and seafoods in high amounts to obtain moderate level of EPA and DHA.
How Omega-3 Fatty Acid Works for Oral Health
There are numerous studies that support the positive impact of Omega-3 intake to the teeth, gums and overall dental health.
For instance, a study in 2010 revealed that consumption of fish oil can lower the risk of having gum disease. Nearly 9,200 participants were evaluated during this study and dental exams were performed. Results revealed that those who were in the middle to the upper third on intake of fish oil were 30 percent less likely to have periodontal disease.
In another study, researchers found that DHA supplementation was linked with marked improvement in periodontitis, an inflammatory gum diseases affecting nearly half of US population. This is a serious disease as it destroys the bones and soft tissue that support the teeth. When the infection spreads, the toxins produced by the bacteria cause damage to the teeth.
Based on studies, the oral health benefit of Omega-3 may extend beyond inflammation as it has potent anti-bacterial effects against a wide range of mouth bacteria. DHA, EPA and ALA, including fatty acid esters may inhibit the growth of pathogens inside the mouth, including Candida albicans, Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas ginigivalis.
Get Lots of Omega-3 Fats
While plant-based Omega-3 are extremely healthy and beneficial, clearly it is the Omega-3 from fish and seafoods that provide the best gum diseases-preventing benefits. It is DHA and EPA, not ALA that is critical in preventing heart disease, inflammation and many other illnesses, including gum disease.
Eat at least two servings of Omega-3-rich- fish such as mackerel, sardines, tuna, trout and salmon, every week. Each serving is 75grams or about the size of a palm of a hand.