Vitamin Deficiencies & Oral Health
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Nutrition plays a significant role in maintaining optimal oral health. The foods and beverages you consume are able to, directly and indirectly, affect your teeth and gums. Diets high in sugar and acidic foods and beverages can contribute to tooth decay. Bacteria in the mouth feed on those sugars which then produce acids that erode the tooth enamel, leading to cavities. Limiting sugary and acidic foods can help prevent this. Here are some additional ways in which nutrition correlates with oral health.
Tooth Development and Strength:
Oral conditions are generally categorized as dental caries and periodontal diseases, both resulting from microbial infections. Within the oral cavity's 500-plus bacterial varieties, the microorganism most strongly associated with dental caries is Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans), a prominent causative agent responsible for initiating tooth decay by compromising the teeth's enamel structure. (1)
Proper nutrition, especially during childhood, is crucial for developing strong teeth. Essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus are required to form and mineralize teeth, making them resistant to decay and damage. Vitamin D is necessary to absorb calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus from the intestine. Vitamin D is necessary for the appropriate mineralization of bones and teeth. Vitamin D is associated with various oral health conditions during growth, such as enamel defects.
Chewing and Jaw Health:
Consuming crunchy, fibrous foods (like raw fruits and vegetables) requires more chewing, which promotes jaw health and stimulates blood flow to the gums. According to the National Library of Medicine, roughly 47% of adults in the United States experience periodontal disease. Dietary recommendations advise consuming sufficient dietary fiber. Embracing healthier eating patterns, notably by incorporating more fiber, could play a role in preventing periodontal disease. (2)
Nutritional deficiencies can lead to gum problems, especially with a Vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is essential for preserving healthy gums and preventing gum infections like gingivitis and periodontitis. A vitamin C deficiency, although rare, can result in scurvy, which commonly manifests with bleeding gums and increased tooth mobility. (3)
Proper nutrition can influence saliva production. Saliva helps neutralize acids, cleanse the mouth, and provide minerals that help repair the enamel. Chewing fibrous foods also stimulates saliva production. Oral health problems such as dental cavities and oral infections can develop when saliva flow is reduced.
Hydration: Drinking water and staying hydrated is crucial for overall health, including oral health. Water helps remove food particles and bacteria, preventing bad breath (halitosis) and promoting a healthier environment in the mouth.
Some Additional Vitamin Deficiencies to Consider:
A cross-sectional study by the National Library of Medicine concluded that among children who suffer from systemic vitamin B12 deficiency, there is a higher occurrence of dental caries and related gingival issues. (4)
Deficiency may lead to reduced bone density, osteoporosis, and, consequently, the progression of periodontal disease. (5,6)
To promote optimal oral health through nutrition, consider the following tips:
Limit Acidic and Sugary Foods: Reduce consumption of sugary snacks, candies, and acidic and sugary beverages.
Eat a Balanced Diet: Consume various foods from different food groups to ensure you're getting essential nutrients.
Hydration: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated in the mouth and body.
Choose Teeth-Friendly Snacks: opt for whole fruits and vegetables, protein, and nuts that promote oral health.
Maintain Regular Oral Hygiene: Optimal nutrition complements oral hygiene practices like brushing, water flossing, and regular dental check-ups.
1. Kim, Y. (2021). Analysis of the Effect of Daily Water Intake on Oral Health: Result from Seven Waves of a Population-Based Panel Study. Water, 13(19), 2716. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13192716
2. Nielsen, S. J., Trak-Fellermeier, M. A., Joshipura, K., & Dye, B. A. (2016). Dietary Fiber Intake Is Inversely Associated with Periodontal Disease among US Adults. The Journal of Nutrition, 146(12), 2530-2536. https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.116.237065
3. Murererehe, J., Uwitonze, A. M., Nikuze, P., Patel, J., & Razzaque, M. S. (2021). Beneficial Effects of Vitamin C in Maintaining Optimal Oral Health. Frontiers in nutrition, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2021.805809
4. Hugar, S. M., Dhariwal, N. S., Majeed, A., Badakar, C., Gokhale, N., & Mistry, L. (2017). Assessment of Vitamin B12 and Its Correlation with Dental Caries and Gingival Diseases in 10- to 14-year-old Children: A Cross-sectional Study. International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry, 10(2), 142-146. https://doi.org/10.5005/jp-journals-10005-1424
5. Cagetti, M. G., Wolf, T. G., Tennert, C., Camoni, N., Lingström, P., & Campus, G. (2020). The Role of Vitamins in Oral Health. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17030938
6. Jagelavičienė E., Vaitkevičienė I., Šilingaitė D., Šinkūnaitė E., Daugėlaitė G. The Relationship between Vitamin D and Periodontal Pathology. Medicina. 2018;54:3. doi: 10.3390/medicina54030045