In response to this post, which went up three months ago, a reader named Tara has just written:
I started taking 2 TB of flax oil daily about four days ago and now my gums are barely bleeding at all after I brush and floss. My gums were red, swollen and would bleed after I brushed and flossed and are now pink and healthy looking.
I’ve had this problem for years and I could not understand why it would keep happening even though I was consistent with my dental routine. I take the berry flavored Barlean’s flax oil mainly because it tastes good and so I look forward to taking it- if it was gross I would not be consistent with taking it.
Anyhow, thanks for the information! I wish dentists would look into this but they probably won’t so I’m glad that you do.
I agree about the Barlean’s, by the way. Their Omega Swirl flaxseed oil does taste good. The Omega Swirl webpage does not list healthy gums as one of its benefits. Instead it lists a bunch of benefits, such as “Heart Health” that are nearly impossible to verify.
Someone recently told me something fascinating about flaxseed oil: It made it much easier to kneel on the floor. Before he started taking it, his knees would hurt after a few seconds. Now they don’t. I don’t remember my knees hurting quickly but I consume 66 g/day of ground flaxseed (= about 2 T flaxseed oil) and can kneel without pain for minutes.
The tiny fact reflected in Tara’s comment — an easily-available supplement (flaxseed oil) quickly cures a common problem (bleeding gums) but hardly anyone knows this — is a devastating comment on our health care system.
1. Dentists haven’t managed to figure this out. Flaxseed oil is not an obscure supplement. Dentists are not making money giving people much worse advice (“floss regularly”).
2. Nutrition professors haven’t managed to figure this out. Omega-3 is not an obscure nutrient. Nevertheless, the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines says omega-3 fats are “essential” but says nothing about how much you need. Inflammation is believed to be the cause of many diseases, including heart disease. By getting this one thing (minimum omega-3 intake you need to be healthy) right, the USDA could do a world of good. Instead they tell people to eat less animal fat (“consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids”).
To be fair, professional researchers are starting to figure this out. A 2010 study of 9000 people found that “participants in the middle and upper third for omega-3 fatty acid consumption were between 23 percent and 30 percent less likely to have gum disease than those who consumed the least amount of omega-3 fatty acids.” With the right dose, I believe gum disease becomes 100% less likely. But at least they noticed a connection.