INMA: “Vitamine D and dental health”


There is a common pattern arising when we visit our dentist. It is highly likely that we are being told that we should brush our teeth and use dental floss more often. Life gets busy, we forget, or simply we cannot maintain the daily habit of “two-times” brushing our teeth that our dentist recommended.

Poor dental health can result to dental caries, which is a complex infectious disease arising from tooth-adherent bacteria that ultimately attack dental tissue (our teeth), resulting in pain, discomfort and problems in chewing, and thus adversely affecting quality of life. It is actually much more common that we all think; research shows that up to 90% of school-aged children and adults will suffer at some point in their life from dental caries. Interesting huh?

A new study from the INMA cohort showed that the brushing technique (yes, there is a technique for how we should use our brush and not just move it “up and down”) plays an important role in the prevention of dental caries in childhood. In this study, children who used correctly their brush were around three times less likely to have dental caries. The study also showed that sugar intake was associated with tooth decay. Children who were frequent sugar consumers were three times more likely to suffer from a decayed tooth than those who consumed sugar infrequently.

Now, what if we tell you that dental health status can be controlled by more than just brushing correctly and getting the sugar intake habit under control? Teeth are often thought of as inanimate objects that need to be kept clean. However, teeth are a living, functioning part of our body. The way the body manages mineralization of the bone and consequently the teeth is guided by calcium balance and the immune system, which are both regulated by vitamin D. Research has linked vitamin D deficiency with variations in tooth morphology and oral anomalies such as periodontal and dental abscesses. The INMA study showed that a large proportion of children and their mothers had low concentrations of vitamin D in their blood. The study also showed that vitamin D deficiency practically tripled the likelihood of having dental caries in childhood.

In summary, the study suggests that not only the brushing technique and sugar intake play a role in dental hygiene but also that getting adequate amounts of vitamin D, for example through a nice stroll in the park during daytime, may help prevent dental caries.

Referencia: Suárez-Calleja C, Aza-Morera J, Iglesias-Cabo T, Tardón A. Vitamin D, pregnancy and caries in children in the INMA-Asturias birth cohort. BMC Pediatr. 2021 Sep 3;21(1):380.