Everyone knows that calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth. But what does calcium have to do with vitamin D? Quite a lot, because the body can only absorb the vital calcium with the aid of this vitamin. Until now, it has been very difficult to substantiate a vitamin D deficiency in the body reliably. Thanks to the latest research, the undersupply of this vitamin can now be established by dental x-ray.
The majority of Germans are undersupplied with the sun’s vitamin
The great problem with vitamin D: Up to 90 percent is formed in our bodies by sunlight, to be exact, by the UV light contained in this. Now, in our climate, we are not exactly spoiled by the sun. And the increased use of sun creams with high protection factors goes one step further, because they prevent UV rays from penetrating into the skin. In addition, the essential vitamin is only available in small amounts in foodstuffs such as oily fish, liver and eggs. So it is no wonder that most Germans suffer from a deficiency.
Key function for our health
But how does a vitamin D deficiency become noticeable? The essential vitamin is involved in countless processes in our body. Among other things, an inadequate calcium synthesis causes a dysfunction of the mineral balance. The calcium, important for the structure and maintenance of the bone mass, is not absorbed in sufficient measure. This can lead to bone diseases such as osteoporosis or osteomalacia. The latter condition is characterized by a decreased stability of the bones. The symptoms are varied; these range from bone pain to constant fatigue through to skeletal deformities. Osteomalacia, in particular, has fatal consequences in childhood, where, incidentally, it is described by medical practitioners as rickets, because here, calcium lays the foundations for sturdy, resilient bones.
Currently, scientists are investigating an association with various other conditions, from autoimmune disease to high blood pressure and cardiopulmonary conditions through to cancer. Initial results suggest a clearly increased risk. But a vitamin D deficiency also seems to play a substantial role in dental health.
Does a vitamin D deficiency contribute to the development of caries?
A study by Prof. Phillipe Hujoel, researcher at the University of Washington, suggests a distinct association between a vitamin D deficiency and caries. His work shows that this is by no means a new insight because the study consists of an analysis and synopsis of 24 individual studies, which were conducted in various countries in a period from the 1920s to the 1980s. Apparently, insufficient attention has been paid to these results to date.
How does a vitamin D deficiency become apparent in the dental structure?
Canadian researchers have also discovered that a jagged shape of the pulp, that is, of the inside of the teeth, clearly indicates a vitamin D deficiency. If the inside of the teeth shows smoothly contoured patterns on x-ray, however, the body is adequately supplied with the vitamin.
Replacement therapy with the essential vitamin may make sense in certain cases. This particularly applies to children and infants, as well as expectant mothers and people who get little sun. The elderly are also increasingly affected by vitamin D deficiency. Fortunately, deficits of the sun’s vitamin can now be revealed quite easily by means of an x-ray image of the teeth.