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Lindsey Jasicki '05

The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acides on Periodontal Disease

Lindsey Jasicki - Nutrition Science major

Periodontal disease affects the gum tissue, teeth, and underlying bone, distinguished by inflamed gum tissue and deteriorated teeth and bone. Periodontal disease results from increased bacterial levels in the gums caused by poor oral hygiene, genetics, smoking, and diabetes. The high bacteria levels trigger an inflammatory prostaglandin response which causes the tissue to be destroyed.

Good oral hygiene can cure gingivitis, the earliest stage of the disease. However, advanced stages (periodontitis) require surgical measures to remove damaged/dead tissue and reduce bacteria buildup. Chronic inflammatory diseases are linked to an increase in pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, which increase levels of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), enzymes responsible for the breakdown of tissue. Individuals with arthritis, benefit from treatment with omega-3 fatty acid, which are found mainly in fish oils, cooking oils, and spinach.

In arthritis patients, an increase in omega-3 fatty acids reduced MMP levels, which decreased joint inflammation and allowed for increased joint movement. Omega-3 fatty acids produce anti-inflammatory prostaglandins to counteract pro-inflammatory prostaglandins and decrease MMP production, which allows tissue to be restored. Based on results with other inflammatory diseases, omega-3 fatty acid treatment should benefit people with periodontal disease.

An experimental design is proposed to test the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on periodontal disease.

Research Advisor: Jayne Byrne