We’ve been taught since childhood to drink our milk so we can get and keep stronger bones. As a society, we acknowledge how important vitamin D is to our bone health. But we rarely hear how key it is for good oral health—to keep strong, healthy teeth. So while millions of people are missing teeth, or muddling along with failing teeth, it’s worth addressing why vitamin D is so key to our oral health.
First, without vitamin D, calcium cannot do its job. When vitamin D levels are low, calcium will not penetrate the bones and teeth, resulting in a net loss of calcium. Together, vitamin D and calcium work to reduce bone resorption, which means they help maintain your mouth structure and ability to support teeth.
Vitamin D Levels Tend to Decrease With Age
Just like your tendency to struggle with missing teeth increases as you age, your tendency to experience low vitamin D levels increases, too. As mentioned in Dangerous Deficiency, one study revealed that up to 99% of long-term care residents were deficient in vitamin D. It’s human nature that vitamin D levels decrease as you age, because you encounter several changes in lifestyle.
Body changes. With age, your body’s ability to naturally produce vitamin D from sunlight exposure decline.
Sunlight exposure changes. On top of this, you may spend less time outdoors in sunlight.
Eating habits change. As you age, you may begin to suffer from failing or missing teeth, and begin to eat less healthy foods that fail to provide nutrients like vitamin D and calcium.
Benefits of Vitamin D
It can create a vicious cycle. If you begin to lose teeth due to vitamin D deficiency, that will impact your overall health because it will be harder to eat nutritious foods like disease-fighting fruits and vegetables, nuts, and other high-fiber foods. But vitamin D plays other roles in oral health too.
Vitamin D serves as an anti-inflammatory. Inflammation of the gums is a symptom of periodontal disease, and some experts suggest that calcium and vitamin D deficiency may put you at risk for periodontal disease. Specifically, periodontal disease increases cytokine production, while vitamin D has proven to suppress it, indicating that it can decrease your risk of getting the disease. Periodontal disease remains the leading cause of tooth loss in older adults (medscape.com).
Additionally, vitamin D is thought to stimulate the immune system, which can help ward off bacterial infections in your gums that may result in periodontal disease (Vitamin D and Teeth Is Your Dental Health at Risk, easy-immune-health.com).
In some trials, vitamin D indicated a nearly 50% reduction in tooth decay (scientficdaily.com). But if you’re already missing teeth, are you too late to get back good oral health?
Restore Your Oral Health
While you can’t undo damage already done to your jawbone and teeth, you can replace missing teeth and make sure you consume adequate vitamin D to prevent further bone damage or tooth decay.
You’ve probably heard of, considered getting, or perhaps already have dentures. Nearly 50 million Americans wear partial or complete sets of dentures, according to Nutrition and Aging: Learning to Eat With Dentures. Dentures can be a quick way to replace your missing teeth, but they won’t improve your oral health. Dentures do not address tissue damage that may lead to further tooth decay or other health problems.
The best option to replace your teeth and restore oral health is dental implants. By replacing missing teeth with dental implants, you can restore your teeth to a healthy, fully functional state that will also minimize future oral issues.
Because dental implants do not attach or cover neighboring teeth, they allow those teeth to get chewing stimulation needed for bone growth. Dental implants fill in gaps that might otherwise trap food and promote decay. And because dental implants are anchored into your jawbone, they will not slip or move when you eat, like some dentures do.
And it’s never too late to change your eating habits. By increasing your consumption of these foods rich in vitamin D today, you can help ward off inflammation and further tooth decay:
- Calcium-fortified juice
Bear in mind, too much vitamin D can cause damage to your kidneys, liver, or heart. But recent research has indicated that vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent than previously thought. You can find recommended vitamin D levels by age in this Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D brief published by the Institute of Medicine. Plus, your doctor can order blood work to determine your vitamin D level and advise any supplementation accordingly.
Vitamin D plays an important role not only in your bone health, but also in your oral health. Whether you’re missing teeth due to vitamin D deficiency or other reasons, it’s not too late to relinquish your oral health. Contact a provider like ClearChoice about replacing your missing teeth with dental implants, and start eating plenty of vitamin D-rich foods without hesitation!