The importance of vitamin d for oral health. It is estimated that a significant percent of the adult population is deficient in vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin.” Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, therefore it’s essential for healthy teeth and gums.
Much has been written about the importance of having sufficient vitamin D and how it can help protect against heart disease and high blood pressure, diabetes, infections, and immune system disorders. There has recently been a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and COVID-19 and the likelihood of becoming infected with the coronavirus.
How Vitamin D impacts your oral health
Researchers have linked a vitamin D deficiency to two main oral issues:
Tooth Decay. Vitamin D plays a key role in absorbing and retaining calcium and phosphorous for bone and tooth mineralization. When your vitamin D levels are insufficient, it weakens your teeth, making you highly susceptible to cavities, fractures, and decay.
Periodontitis. Research published in the Journal of Periodontal Research has linked lower vitamin D levels with an increased risk of periodontitis, possibly because of its connection to the immune system. Though it’s not fully understood, vitamin D seems to positively impact inflammation and mineralization effects on the tissue surrounding your teeth.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
Since tooth decay and gum disease are two of the most prevalent oral health issues, you might want to check in on your vitamin D levels. Your vitamin D levels can be determined by a simple blood test.
How Do You Get More Vitamin D?
If your physician has diagnosed you with a vitamin D deficiency, you can increase your vitamin D intake in three ways:
Spend more time in the sun. The exact amount of time varies depending on your skin tone, time of day, time of year, and how much skin is exposed. Keep in mind that sunscreen does prohibit vitamin D production. Remember that too much sun exposure can cause the skin to burn and even lead to skin cancer.
Eat foods rich in vitamin D. Foods like cod liver oil, trout and salmon provide the most vitamin D per serving. But if fish isn’t a staple of your diet, milk and cereals often come fortified with vitamin D.
A vitamin D supplement. If your lab work shows a vitamin D deficiency and you’re struggling to get all you need through diet and sunlight, you might ask your primary care physician about a vitamin D supplement. They can recommend the proper dosage based on your specific needs.
So, when you go outside and enjoy the sun today, and soaking up some sun rays, think about how amazing it is your body can turn sunlight into vitamin D, which is essential for bone, tooth, and gum health. If you’re concerned about your vitamin D levels, see your primary care physician and discuss your options. Between sunlight, food, and supplements, you can get the vitamin D you need for a strong and healthy smile.
June is National Oral Health Month in the United States. Oral Health month is supported by the American Dental Association and serves as a reminder to the importance of good oral hygiene. It is a good time to learn more about taking care of your teeth and gums and the importance of oral health for the whole family.