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Vitamin D and the impact on dental health 

Vitamin D is provided by the sun on bare skin, or by the intake of food such as eggs or liver. Its action is essential in the formation and streng-thening of bones and teeth. Its deficiency can be decisive in the placement of dental implants, since these must be supported by healthy bones.

Evolution has provided part of humanity with a darker skin tone because, for millennia, they lived in an area of the planet with a high rate of sunshine. Another part of humanity was provided with a lighter shade precisely because their exposure to the sun was very low. But humanity has changed: emigrates, gets dressed, staying long periods indoors and, as if that were not enough, covers the skin with solar protectors.

Importance and functions of vitamin D

The role of vitamin D (calciferol) in the body is very varied and important for the bones. It is responsible for the formation of bone and tooth stem cells, for example, and for their maturation. It is also involved in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters do-pamine and serotonin, the low levels of which are linked to depression. Vitamin D, by also regulating the levels of calcium in the blood, plays a fundamental role in the healthy functioning of nerves and muscles; and it streng-thens the immune system. Its deficiency causes, among other things, rickets in children, softening of bones in adults, osteomalacia (also known as ‘adult rickets’) or its degeneration, osteoporosis. It has also been associated with an increased risk of periodontitis, which, together with poor bone quality, will not only lead to tooth loss, but will also be a problem when it comes to the insertion of dental implants.

Causes of vitamin D deficiency

  1. Obviously, one of the causes is low sun exposure. Maybe because we live in a region of the planet with few days of sunshine. This is the case for many British people. However, those who live in the Canary Islands during the winter, for example, benefit from the good climate, which has an effect on the increase in vitamin D. However, a person with very dark skin may need about 10 times more sun than one with light skin who lives in the same place. Dressing or wearing sunscreen all day prevents the production of vitamin D.
  2. Age, because as our skin ages it becomes less efficient in producing this vitamin. At the age of 70, the capacity of the skin to synthesize it is 75% less.
  3. The overweight. This vitamin is fat-soluble, so those people with a lot of body fat “kidnaps” it and need to obtain a greater amount.
  4. Drinking alcohol and taking some medications inhibit the absorption of the vitamin D we consume in our diet.
  5. Some diseases can also hinder the absorption of the vitamin supplied by food or cause excessive elimination. People with intestinal malabsorption, such as in celiac disease and in other situations such as Crohn’s disease or bariatric surgery, or people with kidney problems should monitor their vitamin D levels more closely.

Implications for oral health and treatment of vitamin D deficiency
When the deficiency occurs at an early age, it affects the formation of the teeth as well as the rest of the bones (rickets).
Artedental’ team, a dental clinic with extensive expe-rience in this type of clinical cases, explains that when the deficiency occurs in adult-hood, it produces decalci-fication of the bone, which can lead to the loss of teeth due to periodontal disease. The maxillary bone is then soft and will not be able to support dental implants to replace the lost pieces. A specific treat-ment will have to be carried out to correct the problem, prior to the placement of the implants.

This clinic in Puerto de la Cruz has a whole protocol for these cases. Before the implants are placed, a blood test is performed to check the patient’s vitamin D levels. If deficiency is detected, they carry out a treatment by oral intake. This treatment is adequate to the patient’s vitamin levels, and it’s recommended for 10-12 weeks. After that, a new analysis is performed and the dose is readjusted for another 10-12 weeks. The procedure is long, but necessary for the bone stability and strength requirements to place an implant.