Dentists often talk about the necessity of brushing and flossing for maintaining oral health. Both of these are very important, but there are other factors that contribute to the health of your teeth. One of them is your diet. This time of year, when the weather is gray and the days are short, people often become vitamin D deficient. What effect does vitamin D deficiency have on your body, and how can you avoid it?
Healthy Teeth Require Vitamin D
Your teeth, while quite solid and inanimate looking, are, like any part of your body, composed of living tissue. The cells of your teeth die and are replaced regularly. Your body needs to have adequate nutrients like calcium from your diet in order to produce healthy new cells. Vitamin D helps regulate your immune system and the calcium balance within your body.
Without enough calcium, your body can’t make healthy teeth and bones. Tooth enamel is made from calcium and phosphorus, in fact. However, without enough vitamin D, even if you drink a great deal of milk, you won’t absorb enough calcium. Vitamin D also affects the production of dentin, the layer of live cells located below the enamel. Dentin contains cells that guard against tooth infection.
So, your body must have enough vitamin D to: make enamel and dentin and manage your immune system so that it can fight off bacteria and infection.
Vitamin D Deficiency
If you live in Michigan or much of the Northern Hemisphere, you will not be able to get enough vitamin D from the sun during the winter months. During the summer months, 30 minutes of skin exposure to sunlight will do you a great deal of good. Even if you are outside all day long in the winter – which few people are – the sun’s rays are not strong enough for your body to get as much vitamin D from sunlight during this period of time. You will need to get it from other sources.
Eat one to two servings of vitamin-D-rich foods like eggs, organ meats, fatty fish, and dairy products every day to supplement. Taking D3 vitamins will also help you take in enough vitamin D. If you think you are deficient, talk to your doctor. You can have lab work done to check the vitamin levels in your blood which will tell you how much you may need to add to get to a healthier level.
People don’t think about vitamins when they think about oral health issues like cavities and gingivitis, but your body cannot work as it is designed if it doesn’t have the right nutrient building blocks. Talk to your dentist if you think your overall health may be affecting any dental issues you are experiencing. Oral health and general health are more related than you may realize, and getting enough minerals and vitamins, including vitamin D, will make a real difference.