Is Low Vitamin D the Culprit in Cavities?Kenosha Dentist Appointment

The Vitamin D Council recently posted an article about vitamin D’s impact on dental health in children. Dr. John Cannell writes:

“Severe early childhood caries (S-ECC), also known as bottle rot, is a syndrome characterized by severe decay in the teeth of infants or toddlers. S-ECC is commonly caused by a bacterial infection with Streptococcus mutans. Its prevalence is epidemic; in the US, the rate is highest in minorities, at times infecting over 70 percent of minority children. The disease process begins with the transmission of the bacteria to the child, usually from the mother… Subsequent cavities and surgery is common.”

More than one study has investigated the potential link between vitamin D and cavities and found correlations between the two. Most recently, researchers at the University of Manitoba, Canada, found that children with S-ECC (severe early childhood caries) had significantly lower vitamin D levels than cavity-free children (20 ng/ml versus 25ng/ml) and were twice as likely to have levels below 30 ng/ml.

Dr. Cannell also points out that this link was discovered around 90 years ago, when Dr. May Mellanby showed vitamin D supplementation decreased cavities in the 1920’s.

“Unfortunately, her work was forgotten. In addition, early work showed sunbeds were more effective in preventing cavities than was D2,” Dr. Cannell writes.

“Even more interesting, children with S-ECC had much higher levels of parathyroid hormone (high PTH is a marker for severe vitamin D deficiency) than cavity free children had. In fact, their PTH was more than triple the normal children and eight times more likely to be elevated than cavity free children. As the variation in PTH was greater than the variation in 25(OH)D, it made me think the obvious: that children all have different set points for vitamin D preventing carries. Thus, all children should have natural levels, around 50 ng/ml, to prevent S-ECC, a level where PTH is quite low, like the cavity free children had. This requires 1,000 IU/day/25 pounds of body weight, rounded up.”

Last year, William B. Grant also published a paper in the journal Dermato-Endocrinology discussing UVB exposure and vitamin D in reducing risk of dental caries. In it, he writes:

“Studies in the 1920s and 1930s noted that vitamin D and ultraviolet-B (UVB) irradiance reduced caries formation, the proposed mechanism being improved calcium absorption and metabolism. This paper reviews the history of studies of dental caries with respect to vitamin D, geographical location and available solar UVB doses…

The mechanism whereby UVB reduces risk of dental caries is likely through production of vitamin D, followed by induction of cathelicidin and defensins, which have antimicrobial properties. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations at or above 30-40 ng/ml should significantly reduce the formation of dental caries. It is unfortunate that the UVB and vitamin D findings were not given more consideration in the 1950s as a way to reduce the risk of dental caries when water fluoridation was being proposed.”

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