We know and understand the importance of vitamin D for bone health. We’ve been taught since we were kids to drink milk in order to build strong bones. But do we know how vital this vitamin is for good oral health? We rarely hear how important it is for strong, healthy teeth. So while millions are missing teeth or muddling along with failing teeth, it behooves us to address why this vitamin is key to good oral health.
Vitamin D Deficiencies Increase With Age
The tendency to experience low vitamin D levels increases with age. As mentioned in Dangerous Deficiency, one study revealed “Up to 99% of long-term care residents are deficient in vitamin D. It’s natural that vitamin D deficiencies increase with age, because your:
- Body changes. Your skin’s ability to naturally produce or absorb this vitamin deteriorates with age.
- Exposure to sunlight decreases. You may spend less time outdoors in the sunlight.
- Eating habits change. With age, you may experience failing or missing teeth causing you eat fewer foods rich in vitamin D and calcium.
Vitamin D Deficiencies Increase Oral Health Risks
Here’s why. Low levels of vitamin D start a vicious cycle of poor health: You begin to lose teeth which impacts your overall health. Missing teeth make it harder to eat nutritiously. Foods like disease-fighting fruits and vegetables, nuts and other high-fiber foods are difficult to eat with failing or missing teeth.
Some experts suggest that calcium and vitamin D deficiencies may put you at risk for periodontal disease. Inflammation of the gums is a symptom of periodontal disease. Vitamin D is an anti-inflammatory. Periodontal disease increases cytokine production. This vitamin suppresses it. This indicates that vitamin D can decrease your risk of getting periodontal disease. Additionally, this vitamin is thought to stimulate the immune system. This stimulation of the immune system can help ward off bacterial infections in the gums that may cause periodontal disease.
In some trials, vitamin D indicated a nearly 50% reduction in tooth decay.
“The leading causes of tooth loss in older adults are periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay.” See Oral Health Information For Older Adults.
Can Good Oral Health Be Restored?
Yes! If you’re already missing teeth, restore your good oral health by replacing missing teeth. You have two options.
Option 1 – Dentures. The number of US adults needing dentures is projected to increase from 33.6 million in 1991 to 37.9 million in 2020, according to research published in The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry. Dentures can be a quick way to replace missing teeth, but they won’t improve oral health. Dentures do not address tissue damage that may lead to further tooth decay or other health problems.
Option 2 – Dental Implants. Dental Implants are the best option for replacing missing teeth. By replacing missing teeth with dental implants, you can restore your teeth to a healthy, fully functional state and minimize future oral health issues. Contact a provider like ClearChoice.
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 will.
Restore your good oral health by increasing your consumption of foods rich in vitamin D such as:
- Calcium-fortified juice
Recent research indicates that vitamin D deficiencies are more prevalent than healthy levels of this vitamin. However, too much this vitamin can cause damage to your kidneys, liver or heart. You can find recommended vitamin D levels by age in this fact sheet on vitamin D: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/, or ask your doctor to order blood work to determine your vitamin D level. Your doctor can advise supplementation accordingly based on the results of your blood work.
While you can’t undo damage already done to your jawbone and teeth, you can prevent further bone damage, inflammation of the gums, and tooth decay.
- Replace missing teeth with dental implants.
- Start eating plenty of vitamin D-rich foods without hesitation!
- Get 20 minutes of sunshine daily.
- See your dentist every 6 months for an oral exam to ensure continued health of your teeth and gums.
Yes, vitamin D plays an important role not only in bone health but also in good oral health. Contact Hildebrand Family Dental where we understand the importance of a beautiful and healthy smile.