“D” Is for Decay—and the Vitamin That May Help Prevent It
Candy, starchy foods and sugary drinks can all contribute to dental problems. But new research suggests that your risk of decay may be higher because of what you are not eating as well as what you are eating. Vitamin D has been in the news, with low levels of vitamin D linked to health problems such as Alzheimer disease, cancer and depression. Now we’re learning that vitamin D deficiency might also be linked to dental caries (also known as cavities).
Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women has a well-established connection with poor dental development in children. Studies have pointed to higher rates of dental caries in children and adults with lower levels of vitamin D. But the reason for this link isn’t completely understood.
Here’s what we do know: Vitamin D plays an important role in the body’s absorption of calcium and phosphate, the two elements that make up tooth enamel. Therefore, lower levels of vitamin D could lead to weaker enamel, which makes your teeth less able to fight the damage caused by bacteria.
In 2012, the journal Nutrition Reviews published a large study that reviewed evidence from the 1920s through the 1980s and found that supplementation with vitamin D reduced the incidence of tooth decay by 50%. Making sure that everyone has adequate levels of vitamin D may be an easy and effective way to help keep teeth healthy on a population level.
What does all this mean for you? Vitamin D deficiency is very common, especially for those who don’t get a lot of exposure to direct sunlight. Ask us—and your physician—about adding a vitamin D supplement to your diet as an easy way to reduce or eliminate cavities.