Researchers from Harvard studied more than 9,000 adults between 1999 and 2004. About eight percent of the participants had gum disease at the study's outset, report the researchers in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Based on the participants' recalls of their diets over the previous 24 hours, the team found that those who consumed intermediate or high amounts of one of the main fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, were less likely to have the disease.
After taking into account factors such as age, sex and calorie intake, the top third of patients in terms of DHA intake had a 22-percent reduction in their odds of developing gum disease compared with those in the lowest third.
While researchers stop short of confirming a direct link between omega-3 fatty acids and gum disease, the findings are encouraging.
Advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis, is a chronic inflammation caused by the accumulation of bacteria at the gum line, which can lead to bone and tooth loss.
Researchers note that the bacteria involved in gum disease seem to need inflammation to grow, which is why omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial. Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
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