D Good for Gums: Vitamin found to improve oral health

Getting enough vitamin D could be important for oral health, based on findings of a recent study. The analytical study looked at a possible connection between vitamin D levels in the blood and periodontal disease, a widespread chronic inflammatory condition marked by a loss of attachment of the thin ligaments that connect teeth with their surrounding bone sockets. Periodontal disease is a primary cause of tooth loss, particularly among the elderly.

The scientists studied data on 11,202 men and women aged 20 or older who participated in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The scientists analyzed data on periodontal attachment loss and blood levels of a biomarker indicating vitamin D levels accumulated from both dietary intake and exposure to sunlight.

The researchers found that 80% of those studied had lower-than-desired vitamin D levels. They also noted that the higher the levels of vitamin D, the better their periodontal health. Among men and women aged 50 and older, on average, those in the groups at the low range of vitamin D levels had 25 to 27% more attachment loss than had those in the highest range. The scientists suspect that vitamin D cuts down on the inflammatory response that leads to periodontal disease.

While more studies are needed, the findings suggest important oral health implications related to vitamin D intake.

Agricultural Research Service, Aug 26, 2004