The idea that increasing one’s vitamin D intake can turn back tooth decay and regrow portions of teeth damaged by cavities is receiving renewed interest thanks in part to a widely circulated web post by a popular author of alternative-health books.
Although vitamin D can’t undo the harm caused by cavities, it is still critical to healthy teeth and gums, as well as to the development and maintenance of bone. And in the case of vitamin D and cavities, myth and truth are closely intertwined. If you’re considering adding supplements to your diet to improve or maintain your oral health, it’s best to first talk with your dentist.
Can Vitamin D Heal Tooth Decay?
The theory that an influx of vitamin D can reverse tooth decay is based on a 1932 British study into whether a cereal-free diet that was high in calcium and vitamin D affected existing cavities in children. The study was cited in an online column titled “Reverse Cavities and Heal Tooth Decay with These 5 Steps” written by David “Avocado” Wolfe, a raw-foods practitioner and author who is perhaps best known as the spokesman for the NutriBullet.
One of the recommendations in Wolfe’s post is to increase vitamin D intake. Referencing the study, Wolfe asserts vitamin D can stop cavities in their tracks and regenerate tooth structure lost to decay. The website Snopes.com recently debunked the claims.
As the Snopes bulletin notes, the 1932 research showed that tooth decay in children with deficient enamel slowed when cereal was removed from their diet, and levels of vitamin D and calcium were increased. In fact, the study demonstrated that heightened levels of calcium and the lack of cereal offered greater results than vitamin D alone. There is no evidence—in the 1932 study or subsequent research—that vitamin D can repair or regrow dental enamel or dentin, the calcified tissue below the enamel.
Vitamin D: An ‘A’ for Effort
All of this is not to say that vitamin D is without benefits to our oral health.
In 2011, a review of existing research into vitamin D’s effects on dental health linked a vitamin D deficiency to an elevated risk for tooth decay, tooth loss and periodontal disease. A number of individual studies have also supported vitamin D’s role in preventing tooth decay.
A recent article in The New York Times details how archaeologists are employing fossilized teeth to map vitamin D deficiencies in people of the 18th and 19th centuries. The article describes how a vitamin D deficit causes gaps and bubbles in the dentin, which makes up most of a tooth’s structure and the decay of which is what makes a filling or other dental treatment necessary.
While Rockland County dentist Dr. Mark Dunayer can’t help you regenerate decayed or missing teeth, he can help you restore and maintain a beautiful, healthy smile. Whether you’re due for a checkup or you’re considering cosmetic dentistry treatment, please call B & D Dental Excellence at (845) 627-7645 to schedule your appointment at our West Nyack, NY, office.