Fish oil could help treat perio disease

Could fish oil become another tool for treating periodontal disease?

To evaluate whether fish oil supplementation is an effective adjunct therapy for periodontitis, Alison Coates, PhD, from the University of South Australia and colleagues from the School of Dentistry at University of Adelaide reviewed evidence from eight unique studies that involved humans.

Their review showed that improvements in clinical measures were common in all studies but were scientifically significant in two that used a combination of fish oil and aspirin. Although this is not conclusive evidence, intake of fish oil is recommended for health benefits beyond the teeth, the researchers noted.

"I would recommend that people ensure they have a sufficient intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in their diet for general health," said Coates, who presented her findings today at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in San Diego. "In Australia, these types of fatty acids are considered to be essential, with ~500 mg recommended as the suggested dietary target. This equates to approximately two fatty fish meals per week."

There are no serious dangers to consuming fish oil, she and her colleagues noted. At high levels of fish oil above the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) limit, people may experience a delayed clotting time, and potential gastric upset at very high doses. If people are taking blood thinning medication, they should consult with a doctor.

The group reports that the evidence for fish oil being effective in reducing periodontal symptoms is building, but there is a need for more well-designed studies that evaluate the supplement -- both alone and in combination with aspirin -- to be able to tease out whether fish oil by itself is effective. It is important that compliance to treatment is considered and that the dose and length of supplementation is appropriate.

A clinical trial is now under way in Australia to investigate the effects of fish oil in the treatment of periodontal disease.

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