Dental caries, also known as tooth decay, is a tooth infection caused by bacteria that leads to a loss of the hard tissues of your teeth. There are bacteria that live inside of your mouth that help break down foods and sugars that you eat. When dental caries develop, certain bacteria turn sugars into acids, which demineralize and destroy the hard tissues of the teeth. This results in tooth decay. About 92% of adults aged 20 to 64 years old have had dental caries in their permanent teeth.
Usually, treatment of caries involves removing the decay and then filling the space with restorative materials, such as porcelain or gold. In extreme cases, what is known as a “root canal” is needed if the pulp in your tooth dies from infection by bacteria.
A professional cleaning every six months, brushing at least twice a day, and flossing daily can help you to prevent developing dental caries. Eating healthy can help reduce the risk of decay, such as reducing the amount of sugars. Increasing your intake of calcium is also often recommended to protect against dental caries, because this can strengthen your teeth.
Research shows that vitamin D may also help reduce the risk of dental caries in infants and younger children. Studies have shown that children with dental caries have lower levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for increasing the absorption of calcium and phosphate from the food you eat. Increasing the absorption of calcium and phosphate can improve the strength of your teeth and their ability to fight demineralization from bacteria.
Many studies have found that geographic location and sun exposure are related to dental caries. People living closer to the equator with greater amounts of sun exposure are less likely to develop dental caries. Studies that give people vitamin D supplements to prevent caries have found that vitamin D is effective at preventing the development of caries. Taking vitamin D supplements resulted in a 47% reduced rate of dental caries.
Vitamin D is naturally present in only a few foods, namely fatty fish and eggs. Milk can be a major source as it is fortified with vitamin D. So, if aiming for vitamin D through dietary sources, many glasses of milk and multiple servings of fish need to be consumed each day. Thus, supplements are needed to help achieve the levels of vitamin D that your body needs.
They say that you shouldn’t take vitamin D in place of the treatment medications for your dental caries. Talk to your doctor for more advice about taking supplements.