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The Link Between Vitamin Deficiencies and Dental Problems

Posted by SoundHealth on Friday, February 05, 2010
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A big factor for healthy teeth and gums is good nutrition, and the condition of our teeth and is usually a good indicator of how healthy or otherwise the rest of the body is. Many studies have associated poor oral hygiene with serious chronic health problems. Dental problems like cavities, tooth decay and gum disease, although not often regarded as serious diseases, are often very common. Increasing research suggests that good nutrition which prevents these conditions may also prevent from other illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Oral Hygiene and mental health

Research indicates that cavities are associated with poor mental health. For example, elderly individuals with dementia or Alzheimer's disease had an average of 7.8 teeth with fillings vs. an average of only 2.7 fillings for elderly individuals without dementia [1].

It is likely that the toxic heavy metal mercury, which makes up half of every amalgam filling, is a contributing factor. Another study found that dementia patients had higher levels of tooth decay [2], and that those with poor oral hygiene and swollen, bleeding gums were more likely to suffer memory problems linked to Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. [3]. Also, the worse the condition of their gums, the higher their risks of memory blanks.

Tooth Decay and heart health

A recent review showed a clear association between cavities and heart diseases and also showed that people with poor oral health, on average, led shorter lives [4].

Cavities and diabetes

The association between cavities and diabetes is also the subject of active, ongoing research [5,6]. These studies have linked people with diabetes who also have a higher incidence of cavities, with poor overall health and oral hygiene. Further research by the same authors proposed that diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates were the common cause of these diseases.

Vitamin Deficiencies

Dental diseases, mental diseases, heart disease, and infectious respiratory diseases, associated with being caused by common failures in metabolism, appear to more prevalent when there is a deficiency of essential nutrients, including vitamins D and C.

There is especially strong evidence for a relationship between vitamin D deficiency and cavities [7-16]. Dozens of studies have been conducted and more than 90% of the studies concluded that supplementing children with vitamin D prevents cavities.

Vitamin D is a super-nutrient essential for many bodily processes and as well as for dental health. Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to respiratory infections, cancer, Parkinson's disease, diabetes and many other ailments. Other vitamins such as Vitamin C and niacin (vitamin B3) have also proven to benefit dental health.

Improving Dental health

Good oral hygiene is an important factor in keeping teeth and gums healthy. Therefore it is important to brush your teeth regularly and thoroughly and not to eat after cleaning teeth at bedtime, as salivary flow decreases as we sleep. Saliva in the mouth is capable of rinsing acid from the teeth, therby protecting it from damage caused by acids. Also, the more time bacteria has to metabolize fermentable carbohydrates, produce acids and cause a drop in salivary pH, the greater the negative effect on your teeth.

Try to limit the amount of time your teeth are exposed to the acid produced by the bacteria in your mouth. You can do this by keeping your teeth clean, by eating less of the foods that bacteria proliferate on, and by reducing the frequency of eating.

To reduce the time teeth are exposed to these factors, it's important to:

  • avoid continuous snacking and sipping of sugary drinks,
  • allow time between meals for saliva to neutralize acids and repair the teeth,
  • decrease frequency and contact with acidic foods and drinks,
  • avoid brushing teeth immediately after consuming acidic foods, drinks, citrus fruits and juices - this allows time for the teeth to remineralisation.


  • [1] B Ellefsen, P Holm-Pedersen, DE Morse, M Schroll, B Andersen, G Waldemar. Caries Prevalence in Older Persons with and without dementia. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Volume 56, Number 1, January 2008, 59-67(9).

  • [2] J M Chalmers, K D Carter, A J Spencer. Caries incidence and increments in community-living older adults with and without dementia. Gerodontology Volume 19 Issue 2, 80 - 94.

  • [3] Stewart R, et al. Oral health and Cognitive Function in the Third National health and nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), Psychosomatic medicine 70:936-941 (2008).
  • [4] Meurman JH, Sanz M, Janket S. Oral infection and vascular disease. Vascular disease Prevention (2007), 4(4), 260-267.

  • [5] Diaz-Romero R, Casanova-Roman R, Beltran-Zuniga M, et al. Oral infections and Glycemic Control in Pregnant Type 2 Diabetics. Mex. Archives of Medical Research (2005), 36(1), 42-48.

  • [6] Twetman S, Johansson I, Birkhed D, Nederfors T. Caries incidence in young type 1 diabetes mellitus patients in relation to metabolic control and caries-associated risk factors. Caries Research (2002), 36(1), 31-35.

  • [7] Tisdall FF. The effect of nutrition on the primary teeth. Child Development (1937) 8(1), 102-4.

  • [8] McBeath EC. Nutrition and diet in relation to preventive dentistry. NY J. Dentistry (1938) 8; 17-21.
  • [9] McBeath EC, Zucker TF. Role of vitamin D in the control of dental caries in children. Journal of nutrition (1938) 15; 547-64.

  • [10] East BR. Nutrition and dental caries. American Journal of Public health 1938. 28; 72-6.

  • [11] Mellanby M. The role of nutrition as a factor in resistance to dental caries. British Dental Journal (1937), 62; 241-52.

  • [12] Anderson PG, Williams CHM, Halderson H, Summerfeldt C, Agnew R. Influence of vitamin D in the prevention of dental caries. Journal of the American Dental Association (1934) 21; 1349-66.

  • [13] Day CD, Sedwick HJ. Fat-soluble vitamins and dental caries in children. Journal of nutrition (1934) 8; 309-28.
  • [14] Bennett NG, et al. The influence of diet on caries in children's teeth. Special Report Series - Medical Research Council, UK (1931) No. 159, 19.

  • [15] Mellanby M, Pattison CL. The influence of a cereal-free diet rich in vitamin D and calcium on dental caries in children. British Medical Journal (1932) I 507-10.

  • [16] Brodsky RH, Schick B, Vollmer H. Prevention of dental caries by massive doses of vitamin D. American Journal of Diseases of children (1941) 62; 1183-7.

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